10 Fall Superfoods
Fall is a time for scenic amber foliage, finally busting out those adorable sweaters you bought on clearance last spring, and the onset of the annual panic attack about your looming holiday shopping list. It’s also a time for saccharine logic to convince you that if you eat all the leftover Halloween candy in one sitting, you’re saving yourself from eating fun-sized sweets as a snack every day next week; sugary calorie bombs that go by the moniker pumpkin spice lattes; and an upcoming holiday that tends to include second and third rounds of buttery mashed potatoes, bottomless cocktails, and rich pies. This season brings with it, however, a harvest of tasty superfoods to help keep your nutrition in check while you indulge. Check out these 10 fall superfoods to add to your grocery cart and ensure that your fall is as balanced as it is delicious.
We know that apples are rich in antioxidants, flavanoids, and dietary fiber, but some studies show that they’re vital to neurological health and may help ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s, and another study of nearly 10,000 men and women revealed that those whose diets included the most apples were at the lowest risk of stroke. Best of all, there are a variety of choices, so whether you’re a Honeycrisp enthusiast, Granny Smith lover, or Fuji fan, there’s a flavor and texture out there for you. Regardless, it’s no secret that apples are good for you. (The jury is still out on apple pie.)
Pumpkins are good for carving, but they’re better for eating. The bright orange color means they’re loaded with beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body and essential for eye and skin health as well as cellular function. It’s also fiber dense, making pumpkin a great digestive aid that naturally lowers cholesterol levels. And don’t throw out the seeds! Just an ounce contains plenty of protein, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.
Budget-friendly and palatable to most staunch veggie haters, there’s a lot to love about butternut squash. Full of omega-3 fatty acids and beta-carotene, this low-glycemic squash is a fall favorite. Try it roasted for a seasonal side or blended into macaroni and cheese for a healthier comfort food makeover.
Rich in antioxidants, this seasonal favorite boasts more ounce-for-ounce than spinach and even blueberries. These low-calorie berries are known for their anti-inflammatory effects and their ability to reduce the adhesion of bacteria to urinary tract walls (hence the common wisdom of cranberry juice helping UTIs). Unfortunately, the form we most see cranberries in is shaped like a can with the consistency of Jello. Fresh cranberries are best, but they’re also very tart – try roasting them to add to salads, incorporating them into fresh salsas, or freezing them to use as ice cubes.
This bite-sized sweet and chewy fruit is nature’s version of Milk Duds. (You have to have abstained from actual Milk Duds for a few months for this to ring true.) Dates are packed with dietary fiber as well as minerals like potassium, manganese, copper, and magnesium, offering relief from constipation and boosted energy levels. Eat them raw or try them in your favorite smoothie or dessert recipes for a natural sweetener.
They’re the redheaded stepchild of the produce section, but it’s not their fault! That distinct sulfurous odor that conjures nostalgic feelings of childhood dread actually only occurs when they’re overcooked. As with most things, when you treat ’em nice, they’re a delight. Just a cup of Brussels sprouts contains a mere 56 calories, yet packs more than 240 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin K1 and almost 130 percent of vitamin C. With an abundance of fiber, B vitamins, and isothiocyanates (which active cancer-fighting enzymes in the body), some medical studies have also found it more effective in lowering cancer risks than broccoli. Try them steamed or roasted, but just keep an eye on them as they cook!
First of all, let’s get one thing straight: we’re talking about raw walnuts here, not the candied, salted, or chocolate-covered ones. Available in grocery store bulk bins, these nuts are a good source of protein, dietary fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. Walnuts are also rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, and they may help heart health as well as ward off certain cancers and obesity. Try adding 1/4 cup to your morning oatmeal, in muffins and other baked goods, or even out on the counter amidst potato chips and cookies for a healthy party snack alternative.
Okay, so parsnips kind of look like carrots that got stuck in the “whitest whites” laundry cycle, but let’s give them a chance here. They’re full of antioxidants, dietary fiber, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin E, B vitamins, magnesium, copper, and phosphorous. Try this sweet and nutty root vegetable simmered in stews for added flavor or roasted alone – or with carrots and sweet potatoes – for a nutritious and filling side.
Not unlike others on this list, cauliflower contains and impressive array of dietary fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins. It also contains high levels of folate. Deficiencies of this B complex vitamin can lead to birth defects and blood diseases. Cauliflower also contains sulforaphane, which is a sulfur compound that has been shown to kill cancer stem cells. The best part is that it’s easy to sneak into your weekly menu – try battering and baking it with buffalo sauce for a healthier alternative to chicken wings, mashing it for a nutritious mashed potato substitute, or even shredding it and frying it in place of fried rice.
Often overlooked for apples, pears are also a fall superfood. In 2011, the American Heart Association published an article stating that eating one pear a day can reduce the risk of stroke by as much as 52 percent. Packed with potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin K, vitamin A, and vitamin C, this sweet fruit is an amazing addition to salads, sandwiches (try turkey, cheese, and pear), sprinkled with cinnamon and broiled for dessert, or all on its own as a grab-and-go snack.