This post originally appeared in FoodCalc’s Nutrition Insight Blog on October 5, 2012.
If you’re mourning the end of summer and the bounty of fresh produce that went with it, keep reading. Fall boasts a bevy of produce all its own. This season’s harvest is a bona fide natural medicine cabinet. Here are just a few superfoods to fall for over the next few months:
Butternut squash may look a little daunting at the market but this fall gourd is worth the work. At just 80 calories, one cup of butternut squash delivers almost half of your daily vitamin C needs and more than 100% of your recommended vitamin A (beta carotene). Its deep orange color signals its high beta-carotene levels which helps protect against age-related macular degeneration and may even fight breast cancer.
Butternut squash is great pureed into soup, mashed, added to stew or cubed and roasted.
Kale reaches its peak flavor as the mercury drops. The cooler temperatures make the leaves less bitter. Kale is a superfood if ever there was one. It’s a natural detoxifier. People who eat large amounts of kale and other cabbages tend to have a lower risk for certain cancers. Components in kale also help lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Further, research shows that eating 1½ cups more leafy greens per day was associated with a 14% decreased risk of diabetes.
Kale is versatile. Shred it up and toss with your favorite vinaigrette and a few sliced almonds. Enjoy it raw in a salad or smoothie or hot by simply sautéing in olive oil and garlic.
Pears are often overlooked for the iconic apple but there are many reasons to choose pears too. At just 100 calories per serving, pears are a good source of vitamin C. A medium pear has 5 grams of fiber – that’s 20% of your daily fiber needs. The fiber in pears can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. In fact, one study found that white flesh fruits like pears significantly reduce the risk of having a stroke. So having a pear a day may keep a stroke away.
Pears are the perfect sweet snack for those trying to lose weight and a juicy addition to green salads. For a healthy dessert, poach pears and top with a dollop of vanilla yogurt and toasted walnuts.
Sweet Potatoes reach peak flavor in the fall. These orange tubers are high in vitamin C, vitamin A and potassium and a good source of fiber. They are low on the glycemic index therefore perfect for people with diabetes and metabolic syndrome and those trying to lose weight. And on top of this… they just taste great!
Sweet potatoes can’t be any easier to prepare. Cube and roast sweet potatoes to bring out the natural sweetness. Enjoy a baked sweet potato plain or with a dusting of cinnamon or chipotle chili powder. Add sweet potatoes to chunky soups and stews or whip them up for a sweet twist on mashed potatoes.
Creative Commons image courtesy of timsackton on flickr.