Autumn is well under way! Did you know that many of your favorite fall foods have additional health benefits as well? Learn more about these autumn ingredients and work them into your meals while they’re still in season!
It’s not just for carving, or making pie! Pumpkin can be roasted or added to salads, soups, oatmeal, and baked goods. Pumpkin provides a good source of fiber and contains beta-carotene. Within the body beta-carotene converts into Vitamin A, which is beneficial for your skin and eye health.
And don’t throw away the seeds after you scoop out the pumpkin for carving! . Pumpkin seeds provide protein (7g per 1 ounce serving) and are a good source of fiber and poly- and monounsaturated fatty acids (the heart healthy fats!).
Due to the yellow strands this squash provides, it is a popular alternative to grain-based spaghetti pasta. It is naturally lower in calories and gluten free! Simply cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and place both halves in the microwave or oven. Cook until tender then use a fork to scrape out the strands of “spaghetti.” Add your favorite sauce and lean protein and this pasta alternative will provide you with plenty of vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, and calcium.
This popular fruit commonly served during the holidays provides numerous nutritional benefits. Probably the best, well-known benefit of cranberries, especially cranberry juice, is its potential role in preventing urinary tract infections (UTI). Cranberries contain proanthocyanidin, which is a compound that may prevent harmful bacteria from collecting on the wall of the bladder. The nutritional benefits of cranberries go beyond maintaining a healthy urinary tract. Cranberries are a good source of fiber and contain vitamin C and antioxidants.
This fall fruit is not just for dessert though. It can be consumed fresh, dried, or cooked and pairs well with a wide variety of dishes including grain and vegetable salads as well as meats and poultry.
These little cabbages may not be the most popular vegetable, but their nutritional benefits should earn them a spot on the top of your fall produce list. Brussel sprouts are part of the cabbage family and are considered a cruciferous vegetable. They are loaded with fiber and potassium, and are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, and folate. Incorporating cruciferous vegetables, like Brussel sprouts, into your diet may help reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. An easy and delicious way to add these little cabbages into your diet is to cut off the woody bottom, slice in half, and roast them with olive oil in the oven!
While pears can be found in stores year-round, you can expect the best tasting pears in the fall. The nice thing about pears is you can pick them before they ripen and allow them to ripen at home at room temperature. You will know they are ready to eat when the stem gives a little pressure. Like apples, pears are best consumed fresh or cooked. Pears are naturally free of fat and sodium and provide vitamin C. Don’t forget to eat the skin—that’s where the beneficial fiber is!
Nickie Kaetzel is a registered dietitian at Fisher-Titus Medical Center. For more information visit www.eatright.org or www.fruitsandveggies.org For help in reaching your health and wellness goals, contact your primary care physician for a referral for outpatient nutrition counseling.