Fall… the most charming time of the year.
In many countries in the Northern Hemisphere it is probably the only time of the year when we really get to experience all four seasons in one day, even in Ireland. It may not be all that red and yellow here, but there’s something about this crisp fresh air, the foggy mornings and the blazing sunsets, the soft rustle of the leaves as they tear off the branches and sway around in chilly wind before they’re finally allowed to fall.
Fall… The Americans gave it the perfect name.
It rhymes with scarves and coats in my head, with crackling fire and the chunky blankets. It also rhymes with hot spiced drinks and rich cream soups, especially of pumkin. Ultimately, it rhymes with warmth and comfort – because this is what we crave when the wind begins to howl outside like a forgotten hound.
Unfortunately for our half of the world, the poetic, charming Autumn doesn’t come without a side effect. The cold season tends to mess up our hormones due to lack of sunlight, and weaken our immune systems as the temperatures decline, trapping us indoors with the heating on, and the production of immune-boosting vitamin D slows down. The lack of locally-produced fresh fruits and vegetables also play a role in suppressed immunity, and it is ultimately up to us to make sure that we stay on top of our nutrition to not fall a victim of seasonal nutritional deficiencies.
What’s In The Season?
Eating foods that are in season has long been known to be the most natural and sustainable way to nourish our bodies. And not is it only sustainable for our health, but also for the planet as it involves less transportation, less processing and packaging, less greenhouse gas emissions and import taxes and thus lower costs. Evidence suggests that the more miles your food has travelled to get to your table, the less valuable its nutrient content becomes, because longer storage of fresh foods leads to the loss of nutrients (source: Monash University, Food As Medicine). Local and seasonal foods can also often be healthier because they are less likely to be chemically treated to prolong shelf life, enhance flavour or speed up ripening.
Eating seasonal produced in fall and winter means that you will be consuming more root vegetables and thus more starchy carbohydrates, but don’t let that scare you. Starchy carbohydrates from root vegetables are healthy and provide us with easy to use energy and valuable for heart and gut health fibre.
Carbohydrates are not fattening when they are consumed within your daily requirements. Any macronutrient (and protein is no different) can be fattening when consumed above the individual daily requirements.
So no, carbs are not to blame.
In cold months we naturally require more energy-dense foods to keep us warm and full of energy, so embrace the colourful root vegetables and unleash your inner chef for some autumnal creativity!
Before the advancement of food chemistry that now allows us to grow produce that is out of season and transportation to avail of the foods grown overseas, human populations used to depend on the local seasonal produce. It is quite possible that our bodies have adapted to thrive better on the foods that are in season because it may have just the right nutrients for the season, starting with the energy density. It is definitely no harm to include more of the seasonal foods in your diet.
Top 12 Fall Produce
Good source of vitamin C, apples will contribute to stronger immune system for the cold season. Vitamin C is also a very powerful antioxidant, but it’s not the only one that apples can offer: there also quercetins, epicatechins and procyanidin B2 among the others, and together they make a beautiful concoction that will help protect your body against the harmful effects of free radicals.
Apples are also a source of B-complex vitamins that are involved in macronutrient metabolism and energy production. If you feel sluggish and tired, add an apple a day to your menu.
Vitamin A contributes to eye health as well as the healthier immune system, while small amounts of potassium, calcium and magnesium will still work toward your recommended daily intake (RDI), and they are important for healthy heart, muscles, bones and cells. There’s also a small amount of iron in the apples.
Did you know that magnesium helps you wind down and sleep better? It is also good for relaxing muscles and works wonder in conjunction with calcium that helps to contract muscles. Anyone here into muscle building?
The beloved vegetable of my Russian friends, beets contain many of the B-complex vitamins but are particularly high in Folates (B9), providing 27% of Daily Recommended Value (DRV) per 100 g. Folic acid is essential for DNA production, thus making it very important for expectant mothers, especially in the 1st trimester when the neural tube of the foetus is at its forming stage.
Beets also offer Vitamin C, some potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese and zinc – all are essential for your body.
Beets contain a qute unique compound – glycine betaine – that lowers blood levels of homocysteine, a toxic metabolite that is responsible for atherosclerotic plaque formation and coronory heart disease. So eat your beets if there is a history of heart disease in your family.
Did you know that zinc may help you cure the common cold? Some studies show that zinc and vitamin C taken in the first 24 hours from the onset of symptoms may help reduce the duration of the cold. However, overuse of Zinc supplements has no protective benefits, so don’t go mad on supplements.
Blackberries have remarkable amounts of vitamin C and K, but they also do not fall short of other essential vitamins. The antioxidant content of blackberries is extraordinary, too: with anthocyanins, ellagic acid, tannins, quercetins, gallic acid, cyanidins, pelargonidin, catechins, kaempferol and salicylic acid all present at one time, blackberries are one of the most potent berries when it comes to disease and ageing prevention, both of which are caused by free radicals.
High in copper (along with vitamin K), they can contribute to red and white blood cell formation and bone health.
Blackberries are also a source of calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, selenium and zinc. They help absorb iron, protect cells and the DNA, and benefit the eye and heart health.
Did you know that ellagic acid can inhibit the DNA binding of certain carcinogens, making it protective against cancer? However, the claims ellagic acid supplements can cure cancer are false. You are better off eating fresh blackberries than gulping down supplements.
This ‘bland’ vegetable is not that bland when it comes to micronutrients. Cauliflower contains good amounts of B-complex vitamins, especially folate (B9), pantothenic acid (B5) and pyridoxine (B6), as well as vitamin K. It is very high in vitamin C, providing 80% DRV.
It contains antioxidants sulphoraphane and indole-3-carbinol, both are known for their potent anti-cancer properties and are being continuously research in cancer prevention and treatment.
Cauliflower also provides some quantities of calcium, copper, iron, manganese and potassium. It can boost immune system, help red blood cell production, regulate blood pressure and maintain bone health.
Did you know that vitamin C gets lost during prolonged cooking time? To preserve this precious vitamin, steam your cauliflower only for enough time to cook it through. Crunchier veg will have more vitamins left than the tender one.
This is another fall vegetable to offer protection against cancer, thanks to its antioxidants, namely falcarinol, falcarindiol, panaxydiol and methyl-falcarindiol.
It contains many of the B-complex vitamins, vitamin C and small amounts of vitamin E. It is incredibly high in vitamin K (34% DRV) that contributes to healthy blood clotting and bone mineralisation. Phosphorus, one of the minerals in celeriac, also contributes to healthy bones and teeth.
Other minerals include calcium, magnesium, manganese and zinc, with moderate amounts of copper and iron.
Did you know that you can add celeriac to soups and mashed potato to enhance the taste? But be sure to use it sparingly if you are pregnant or on diuretic or anticoagulant medication, and avoid it altogether if you go tanning as it may cause sensitivity to UV light.
Corn is often neglected due to its high sugar and starch content, but it is still a good source of fibre and has a place in a healthy diet. Even small amounts of corn will offer you all the vitamins from A to Z.
Yellow corn contains antioxidant phenolic compounds such as ß-carotene, lutein, xanthins and cryptoxanthin, which protect the mucous membranes, skin and eyes. Ferulic acid, another antioxidant compound in corn, may help protect against cancer and inflammation and prevent ageing.
Due to presence of folic acid, corn is beneficial during pregnancy, as folic acid is important in preventing neural tube defects. The B-complex vitamins and potassium will help maintain the electrolyte balance in check.
Did you know that adding lime to corn makes certain amino acids (protein compounds) and niacin more available? Also, popcorn is a low-calorie and very healthy snack, if you keep it plain with no added fats, sugar and salt.
Fresh figs are yum, and so are their benefits! They arre an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals, including B-complex, vitamins A, C and K, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium and manganese. They are a great source of dietary fibre, too.
Chlorogenic acid present in figs may help control blood glucose, which is important in prevention and management of type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Minerals in corn help maintain a healthy electrolyte balance, muscle tone and bone health, while the vitamins contribute to eye health, metabolism and blood cell production. Figs are also rich in antioxidants.
Did you know that figs are reputed to had been Cleopatra’s favourite fruit? They have been used as medicine since the ancient times, and are still used to this day to promote gut health.
Grapes are a powerhouse of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They are particularly rich in vitamin C and K, and copper, a great source of iron and manganese, some B-complex vitamins, such as Roboflavin, Thiamine and Pyridoxine.
Red grapes are a rich source of resveratrol, an antioxidant that has a potential to slow down or even reverse ageing, prevent various cancers and reduce the risk of stroke.
There are many other antioxidant compounds, too, the most notorious being anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins in red and black grapes and catechins in white/green grapes. In studies, anthocyanins have shown to be anti-allergenic, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-cancer. Proanthocynidins are potent free-radical scavengers and may inhibit the growth of tumours. Catechins also have health-protective properties. Grapes can help prevent anemia and ageing, boost immune system, contribute to eye health and regulate blood pressure.
Did you know that copper in grapes stimulates the brain and protects the nerves, among many other benefits? It is also important for keeping your skin youthful and is beneficial to those with arthritis.
As a great source of dietary fibre, they offer help in controlling blood cholesterol and keeping you regular.
Parsnips share many of the antioxidants with celeriac, in particular, falcarinol, falcarindiol, panaxyol and methyl-falcarindiol. These compounds are antifungal and anti-inflammatory, and may protect against colon cancer and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
Parsnips contain B-complex vitamins, especially folates (B9). They also have good amounts of vitamins C, E and K. There are some calcium, selenium and zinc as well as good amounts of copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium and phosphorus. Altogether, parsnips are good for muscle and nerve function and healthy metabolism, they may help prevent anemia and are a great source of antioxidants.
Did you know that parsnips get their distinct flavour because of the starches converting to sugars, when the first frost hits the ground they are grown in? Parsnips go well with potatoes and are delicious in soups. Have you tried the Roasted Apple-Parsnip Soup?
Pears are a great source of dietary fibre (8% per 100g) and promote gut health not only by creating bulk but also by binding to harmful chemicals that cause colon cancer and escorting them out of your body.
Pears contain most of the B-complex vitamins, as well as vitamins A, C, E and K. Many of the trace minerals are also present in this fruit, from calcium to zinc.
The main antioxidant in pears are β–carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, as well as vitamins A and C. They promote tissue health by facilitating the cell repair and formation, while the vitamin parts promote healthy metabolism and blood clotting.
Did you know that pears are among the least allergenic and most digestible fruits? This is why it is one of the first fruits to be introduced into a baby’s diet.
Pumpkin & Squashes
The two most associated with autumn vegetables, both are incredibly high in vitamin A (up to 350% DRV!), which acts as an antioxidant and promotes eye health and strong immune system. Research also shows that vitamin A has a potential to prevent lung and oral cavity cancers, however, smokers are strongly discouraged from taking vitamin A supplements on their own to help prevent cancer. Instead, smoker or not, you should aim to get in the natural form of vitamin A from food.
Zea-xanthin is another antioxidant in pumpkins that can protect against UV damage to eyes and contribute to healthy eyesight. Squashes also contain antioxidant compounds –carotene, cryptoxanthin- and lutein that convert into vitamin A in the body and have the same protective and immune-boosting properties.
Pumpkins and squashes are rich in many vitamins, including B-complex and vitamins C and E. They are a great source of folic acid that is so important for expectant mothers and those who are planning a baby.
In addition to vitamins, pumpkins are rich in minerals, particularly in copper and iron, and are a very good source of dietary fibre. Pumpkins and squashes may help lower cholesterol, promote good digestion, support healthy heart and skeletal muscle function and contribute to collagen production.
Did you know that you can easily prepare your own pumpkin seeds by cleaning them out of debris and simply drying them? You can eat them raw or roasted in the oven. They are very rich in iron, mono-unsaturated fats, protein and fibre. Pumpkin seeds deserve their own topic, really.
Keep your bowl full of colour!
– Originally posted on Wellnessista.blog By Lana Ash