Eating with the Seasons
Happy first official day of fall! It is a common misconception that eating healthy and getting all the necessary nutrients during the fall and winter is more difficult. In reality, eating with the seasons has numerous health benefits! Studies show that produce grown during their natural seasons are not only fresher, but also more nutrient dense. Natural growing seasons also do not require the use of artificial ripening agents such as chemicals and gases, which can reduce nutrient content. Eating what is in season also ensure you are getting a variety of nutrients and antioxidants throughout the year.
In addition to the benefits listed above, fall and winter also have some of our favorite produce of the year. They are delicious, hearty and packed with nutrients. In fact, these seasons have many fruits and vegetables that are considered superfoods.
“Superfood” is a relatively new term and if you are unsure of what it actually means, you are not alone! According to Medical News Today, there is actually no standard criteria or legal definitions classify any food as a superfood. However, most superfoods are plant-based and the term generally means that the food provides a substantial amount of nutrients and very few calories, as well as a high volume of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. Fall provides so many delicious superfoods you can start adding to your shopping list today including:
Eggplants: Eggplants are a superfood for your brain due to the compound nasunin, which protects your brain cells from oxidation. Chlorogenic acid found in eggplants also gives them anti-cancer, anti-viral and cholesterol-lowering properties. In addition, eggplants are only 20 calories per cup. Their peak season is from July through October, so enjoy them while you can this month!
Pumpkins: Harvested in September and October, pumpkins are a nutritious fall favorite! Just one cup of cooked pumpkin includes 3 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein, 49% of the reference daily intake (RDI) for Vitamin K, as well as number of other vitamins and minerals including Vitamin C, potassium Vitamin E, copper, manganese, riboflavin, iron, folate, and Vitamin B6. In addition, pumpkin is also exceptionally high in beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant.
Apples: In season until late November, apples are another fall staple that are also a superfood! They are packed with number of vitamins and minerals, such as antioxidants and are rich in Vitamin C, potassium, polyphenols, and flavonoids, that help cleanse your system, boost immunity, and improve overall well-being. If you have apple picking near you, you can combine engaging in a healthy, outdoor family activity with delicious, nutritional food!
Pomegranates: While this fruit takes a little bit of work to enjoy, it is absolutely worth adding into your diet. Pomegranate seeds owe their superfood status to polyphenols, powerful antioxidants thought to offer heart health and anti-cancer benefits. In addition to antioxidants, pomegranates are a source of fiber, B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and potassium. They are in season from October through January!
Brussels Sprouts: Packed with 81% of the RDI of immunity-boosting Vitamin C, Brussels sprouts are among the most powerful cold-weather superfoods. They are not only low in calories, but also contain high levels of Vitamin K, Vitamin A, and Folate. Their peak season in from September to mid-February, so be sure to grab some on your next shopping trip!
Cranberries: This delicious berry hits its peak of color and flavor during from mid-September to mid-November and are considered a superfood for their high nutrient and antioxidant content. This berry has also been proven to reduce cardiovascular disease, slow cancer progression, manage UTIs and even enhance oral health.
Sweet Potatoes: While you can generally find sweet potatoes year-round, peak season is during the fall and winter. They are a little higher in calories but are packed with nutrients and have many health benefits. Most notably, sweet potatoes are known for being one of the richest sources of Vitamin A. Just one sweet potatoes is enough to fulfill over 100% of your recommended daily intake. They also contain high amounts of Vitamin C, manganese, Vitamin B6 and potassium.
Butternut Squash: This fall staple doesn’t just look good next to the other gourds adorning your table, it’s got some serious nutritional benefits. The orange flesh is a giveaway that it’s loaded with beta-carotene, 300% of your daily value in one cup to be exact. Beta-carotene is a precursor to vitamin A, a vital component in the support of your healthy skin, eyes and bones. Butternut squash is also a good source of immune-boosting vitamin C and packed with dietary fiber for overall gut health. While it is available year-round, it’s best from early fall through winter.