It’s easy to eat lots of fruits and vegetables in the summer when the choices of fresh and delicious produce are plentiful. But in order to stay really healthy, it’s important to keep eating them year-round.
A seven-year study in Public Health Nutrition of those between the ages of 35 and 75 found that more people eat vegetables and fruits on a daily basis during the summer. Not surprisingly, though, it was those who ate them all year who had the most protection against illnesses.
Fortunately, there are several more autumn produce choices than you may think. These 10 fruits and veggies are among the healthiest “autumn harvest” foods you can eat.
They’re loaded with powerful antioxidants, including quercetin, catechin, and chlorogenic acid, which protect against breast and colon cancers, prevent kidney stones, and help to lower bad cholesterol while raising the good kind. Studies have also found that eating at least two apples a week reduces the risk of asthma and type 2 diabetes.
Pears contain antioxidants that help protect the body from free radical damage, help promote heart and colon health, and protect against macular degeneration.
- Key Nutrients: fiber, vitamin C, copper
Avocados are an excellent source of the healthy monounsaturated fat, oleic acid, which has been shown to lower cholesterol. They’re also rich in the carotenoid lutein and vitamin E, that when combined with the avocado’s healthy fat; inhibit the growth of prostate cancer.
- Key Nutrients: oleic acid, lutein, vitamin E, vitamin K, fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin C copper
Leeks are in the same family as garlic and onions, and have many of the same healthy benefits. They’ve been found to lower bad (LDL) cholesterol while raising good HDL cholesterol, fight against cancer, and stabilize blood sugar levels.
- Key Nutrients: manganese, vitamin C, iron, folate, vitamin B6
- Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts are a rich source of phytochemicals. They also help you get healthy skin, protect the immune system, and support a healthy colon.
- Key Nutrients: vitamin K, vitamin C, folate, vitamin A, manganese, fiber, potassium, vitamin B6, tryptophan, vitamin B1, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, phosphorus, protein, magnesium, vitamin B2, vitamin E, copper, calcium
- Green Beans
Green beans contain a lot of vitamin K which is important for healthy bones and anti-inflammatory nutrients that may reduce the severity of diseases where inflammation plays a major role, such as asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Key Nutrients: vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, vitamin A, fiber, potassium, folate, iron, magnesium, thiamin, riboflavin, copper, calcium, phosphorous, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, niacin
Broccoli is packed with nutrients including, calcium, iron, and protein. It fights heart disease, prevents cataracts, helps build strong bones, protects against ulcers, rheumatoid arthritis the immune system.
- Key Nutrients: vitamin C, vitamin A, folate, fiber, manganese, tryptophan, potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin B2, phosphorus, magnesium, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B5, iron, calcium, vitamin B1, vitamin B3, zinc, vitamin E
Eggplant contains phytonutrients that have antioxidant activity, which makes them anti-cancer, anti-viral and good for lowering bad (LDL) cholesterol. It also contains an anthocyanin phytonutrient in its skin, which is a potent antioxidant and free radical scavenger that has been shown to protect cell membranes from damage.
- Key Nutrients: fiber, potassium, manganese, vitamin B1, vitamin B6, folate, magnesium, tryptophan, vitamin B3
Spinach is truly a nutrition powerhouse. Researchers have found at least 13 different flavonoid compounds in spinach that function as antioxidants and anti-cancer agents. It also contains lots of vitamin K for your bones, is protective of the heart and against eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts and contains several of anti-inflammatory nutrients.