Five fall foods to bolster your health
If the fall season gives you tender thoughts of pumpkin-flavored lattes, you're in luck because there's a full harvest of health-giving natural foods to discover. We're giving you the scoop on how to enjoy the best of what autumn has to offer.
It may seem obvious, but this fall favorite is rich in disease-fighting antioxidants and fiber, an important dietary element that's hard to find in prepared food. Fiber can help lower cholesterol and is thought to protect against colon cancer. Apples have a high concentration of pectin, a soluble fiber that eases digestion by soaking up excess water. Biting into a fresh, fall apple stimulates the production of saliva, which flushes out bacteria, keeping your teeth naturally clean and healthy.
All parts of this crunchy and delicately sweet fall vegetable are edible including the bulb, stalk, leaves and seeds. A traditional key ingredient in many Italian dishes, fennel is high in a B vitamin called folate and potassium, both of which are associated with good cardiovascular health. It's also high in antioxidants and the bulbs are a good source of vitamin C, which can contribute to keeping your immune system in check.
A no-brainer as far as the fall harvest goes, rosemary, parsley, thyme and sage not only paint the landscape as they grow, they add distinctive flavor to foods that you might otherwise pass up because they're not tasty enough. Put a new spin on a classic by scrambling eggs with rosemary or thyme, and get your protein intake for the day. Sage goes well with lentils -- a great source of protein -- and carrots, which provide an excellent source of vitamin A as well as minerals such as calcium, manganese and phosphorus.
You've probably heard all about the benefits of this super food, so don't miss it in its prime season. In addition to vegetable protein, fiber, folate and the minerals phosphorous, potassium, calcium and zinc, kale is a source of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid. Omega-3s are well known for an array of benefits to the joints and skin in addition to boosting your mood.
Not to say their benefits are merely skin deep, but the skin is the most important part of the pear, so enjoy them fresh instead of canned this fall. Pear skin is thought to be highly concentrated with phenolic phytonutrients that have anti-inflammatory benefits. Recent research suggests pears can decrease your risk for type 2 diabetes because the flavonoids they contain keep your insulin levels in check. Pears are also a great source of fiber and copper, which is associated with increased cardiac and thyroid health.