The weather is getting crisper and the leaves are starting to turn yellow, orange and brown. Fall is here, and you can almost smell the home-baked pumpkin pie and hot apple cider in the air. It’s time to enjoy the bounty of the season, not just for the taste and freshness, but also for the nutritional value, powerful antioxidant punch and natural fiber that healthy fall superfoods bring to the table.
Here are 10 of the best healthy fall superfoods to enjoy this season for greater health and wellness:
1. Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkins and Dark Orange Vegetables: Sweet potatoes are superstars among the healthy fall superfoods because they contain more vitamin A than any other vegetable. They are also an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamin C, calcium, potassium and fiber. Other notable dark orange vegetables that are packed with natural fiber, vitamins and essential omega-3 fatty acids are pumpkins, carrots, and butternut squash.
Try this: According to recent research, to optimize your absorption of the beta-carotene in sweet potatoes, you should eat some fat (such as a little olive oil) along with your sweet potato dishes. A minimal amount of just 3.5 grams (less than ¾ of a teaspoon) of fat per meal can significantly increase your uptake of beta-carotene from sweet potatoes.
2. Pears: With a peak harvest season from August to February, pears contain vitamin C, copper and 4 grams of natural fiber per serving (about ½ of a fresh pear, or ½ cup). Choose pears that are colorful with no bruises or blemishes. To ripen pears more quickly, place them in a bowl with apples or place them in a paper bag.
Try this: Baking or poaching pears enhances their flavor, so try baking them (halved and cored or whole) in the oven at 350° F. for about 30 minutes, and don’t forget to sprinkle with a little cinnamon or other spices. Or try poaching them (cooking in a saucepan on the stove in water mixed with sugar and spices such as cinnamon sticks, allspice, vanilla, or other favorite spices). Pears are done cooking when there is no resistance when poked with a paring knife. Serve baked or poached pears pared (no pun) with ice cream, cakes or other fruits.
3. Cruciferous Vegetables: Vegies in the cruciferous category include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, collards and turnips. These foods contain lots of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, as well as indole alkaloids that naturally help to combat ailments and phytonutrients that help to lower cholesterol. Harvard Medical School researchers say the nutrients in cruciferous vegetables can even help to improve your memory as you get older. Their research found that women who ate the most of these foods were less forgetful than the women who ate less or none of these foods.
Try this: The healthiest way to eat these vegetables is fresh and uncooked, in a salad, for instance. That way they don’t lose any of their nutrients from the cooking process. The best way to cook them and maintain as many of their nutrients as possible is to steam them just long enough to become tender (not soft or mushy). Boiling is not recommended because most of their nutrients will be lost.
4. Pomegranates: Pomegranates are being heralded as antioxidant powerhouses. Researchers at UCLA found that pomegranate juice contains more antioxidants than red wine. Pomegranates also contain vitamin C and other nutrients that help support brain function and memory. Researchers found that drinking pomegranate juice can help to lower the risk of hardened arteries or atherosclerosis.
Try this: Use pomegranate juice mixed with garlic and other favorite spices as a tangy marinade, or toss pomegranate seeds into salads to add both flavor and color.
5. Alliums: Foods in the alliums category are garlic, onions, leeks, scallions, chives and shallots. They contain sulfur compounds that protect against heart problems and other health conditions. Eat these foods to help your liver function properly to eliminate toxins from your body.
Try this: These healthy fall superfoods are especially sensitive to cooking methods. To preserve their nutrients and healing properties, keep their contact with water to a minimum, meaning don’t soak or cook them in water or many of their nutrients will be lost. Steaming or baking vegetables in the oven are the best ways to preserve their nutrients. Don’t overcook them or they will lose their fibrous qualities as well. Cook them just long enough to become tender (not too soft or mushy).
6. Beans: Beans are a great source of protein, antioxidants, folic acid, potassium, dietary fiber and complex carbohydrates. They are versatile, nutritionally rich, inexpensive and delicious.
Try this: To reduce gas when cooking beans, here are a few tips:
- For canned beans, rinse well before cooking.
- For dry beans, when you are done soaking beans in water, dispose of the soak water and replace with fresh water. Then cook your beans for at least half an hour, then strain out and dispose of the cooking water and replace it with fresh water again. Then continue cooking beans until they are tender.
- Add about one tablespoon of baking soda to beans soaking in water and rinse well when they are done soaking. The downside to this is that it can leach out the B vitamin called thiamine.
- Make sure beans are fully cooked. Undercooked beans can be extra starchy which causes gas.
7. Dark Green Leafy Vegetables: Leafy greens are a great side dish to complement any meal, and many varieties are in peak season during the fall. They provide vitamins C and A, iron and lutein, an antioxidant that helps stop free radicals that damage cells and cause health problems.
Try this: Kale can be chopped and added to soups, stir-fried, sautéed, or baked into crispy chips. Here’s how to make them:
1 bunch of kale
1 Tbsp olive oil
Sea salt (to taste)
Preheat oven to 350° F. Strip off kale leaves from stem and tear into bite-sized pieces. Arrange on a baking sheet and sprinkle with olive oil and salt. Bake about 10 minutes or until edges are slightly brown.
8. Cauliflower: While usually available year-round in most grocery stores, this cruciferous vegetable is priced more affordably from September through June when its harvest season is in full swing. It provides abundant amounts of folic acid, vitamins A, C and K, and sulforaphanes, which are phytochemicals believed to have antimicrobial properties to ward off ailments.
Try this: Cut florets and serve raw with your favorite dip, cook in the oven on a baking sheet until golden brown, or steam and serve with melted low-fat cheese mixed with salsa. You can also blend cauliflower and serve as a healthy alternative to mashed potatoes, or puree and add to soups for more flavor and texture.
9. Herbs and Spices: Herbs and spices can boost both the flavors and health benefits of your meals. Cinnamon is one of the most popular spices time of year and contains some of the most antioxidants compared to other spices.
One of the healthy fall superfoods that is gaining in popularity is moringa oleifera, also known as “the miracle tree” for its healing properties and amazing nutritional content of more than 90 nutrients, 46 types of antioxidants, 36 anti-inflammatories, 18 amino acids and all 8 essential amino acids. That’s why experts are calling moringa oleifera the most nutritious plant on earth.
Compared to other common foods, ounce for ounce moringa oleifera contains:
- 7 times more vitamin C than oranges.
- 4 times more vitamin A than carrots.
- 4 times more calcium and 2 times more protein than milk.
- 3 times more potassium than bananas.
- 3 times more vitamin E than spinach.
- 3 times more iron than almonds.
The best part about this healthy fall superfood is that it’s now available as a convenient daily supplement which you can take year-round, such as Healthy Choice Naturals Maximum Moringa. This 100% natural moringa supplement provides 500 mg of pure moringa oleifera in every daily capsule. And since it is all natural, the bioavailable nutrients are easily absorbed and utilized by your body to nourish and protect your cells from free radical damage.
Other healthful herbs and spices to experiment with include turmeric, chili peppers, sage, rosemary, ginger, saffron, parsley, basil and many more.
An added benefit of seasoning your dishes with herbs and spices is that you will tend to use less of other ingredients that are bad for your health, such as salt, extra sugars or sweeteners, and saturated fats.
Try this: Add cinnamon to spice up oatmeal, smoothies, French toast and baked goods, or add a dash of cinnamon to hot cocoa or cider. To ensure you’re getting enough of your daily nutrients for optimal health, take a pure moringa oleifera supplement, such as Healthy Choice Naturals Maximum Moringa, made from the dried leaves of the most nutritious plant on earth!
10. Nuts: Most nuts are good for you (as long as you don’t eat too many of them), and walnuts top the list as being the best for your health. In peak season from September through October, walnuts contain vitamin E, selenium, magnesium and antioxidants. Plus, they contain more omega-3 fatty acids than any other nut. Omega-3s are essential fatty acids that help to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation of the arteries.
Try this: Mix walnuts and dried fruit together for a quick snack and a boost of energy. Try adding walnuts to leafy green or bean salads, or add walnuts to yogurt and enjoy the crunch.
You don’t have to gorge yourself on these healthy fall superfoods to be healthy, but rather, incorporate servings of them into your daily diet as often as possible along with other fresh, whole, natural foods. This will boost your intake of all-natural vitamins and minerals, plus critical antioxidants needed to stop free radical damage and natural fiber to make you feel full and aid in digestion. Indulging in these healthy fall superfoods is just another way to enjoy the seasonal foods that are readily available and more affordable at this time of year. Experiment with these healthy fall superfoods and other health-conscious ingredients and recipes during the autumn season, and enjoy the variety, freshness and health benefits they bring to the table for your family.
For more information about Healthy Choice Naturals Maximum Moringa and other natural, herbal vitamins and supplements for greater health and vitality, go to http://shop.healthychoicenaturals.com/Maximum-Moringa-Capsules-p/moringa.htm.