While the fall weather has varied drastically across the country, there is no denying that the season is upon us and with it comes some of our favorite seasonal foods. Who doesn’t love a good pumpkin spice latte? Or a big slice of apple pie? While these may be little indulgences of the season, there are actually some strong health benefits to some of your favorite seasonal foods that may entice you to find even more ways to incorporate them into your diet.
While pumpkin pie is a well-established staple at the Thanksgiving table, for daily clean eating, there are numerous benefits to eating pumpkin in its purest form. When we say purest form, we mean either direct from the pumpkin or canned pumpkin but don’t be fooled by that pumpkin pie puree in canned form. Pumpkin pie puree contains added sugars and syrups that aren’t necessary for daily consumption.
Some common health benefits of eating pumpkin or pumpkin seeds include the increased intake of beta carotene, a powerful antioxidant that converts to vitamin A in the body. This also helps boost immunity during this dreaded start to cold and flu season. Pumpkin also provides some key benefits to heart health through the fiber, potassium and vitamin C content. It also helps regulate blood pressure. Research also suggests that the high content of beta-carotene can reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, such as prostrate and colon. In addition, pumpkin can help control diabetes and increase daily fiber content.
With so many health benefits, we predict you are already searching for those pumpkin inspired recipes to kick off the Fall season.
We are all familiar with the saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” but what does that really mean for incorporating more of this fall favorite into your everyday life? Unfortunately, it does not mean a daily slice of apple pie but there are plenty of ways to add this naturally sweet fruit to your everyday lifestyle.
Apples are rich in important antioxidants, flavonoids and dietary fiber. Similar to the pumpkin, the nutrients and antioxidants may help reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Apples are also loaded with important vitamins, including vitamin C which boosts immunity and B-complex vitamins, which are key to maintaining red blood cells and keeping the nervous system in good health. In addition, apples have a high fiber and phytonutrient content and are rich in minerals such as calcium and potassium. Beware, however, that unlike pumpkin seeds, apple seeds should not be consumed. They contain cyanide, a powerful poison that can prove fatal if consumed in high doses.
There have also been studies conducted showing the benefit of apples to neurological health as well as reducing the risk of stroke and lowering cholesterol. With so many health benefits, how can you not incorporate just one apple a day into your lifestyle?
While shelled pecans are available all year, unshelled pecans are only available in the autumn months making them another fall favorite. Despite pecans having the highest fat content of all nuts, there are numerous health benefits that counteract this. Like pumpkin and apples, pecans contain nutrients, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants that offer some great health benefits including the improvement of your cardiovascular health and digestive health. Because nuts satisfy hunger, pecans can also play an instrumental role in weight loss. The fatty acid, oleic, can also reduce the risk of breast cancer. A few other health benefits include bone and teeth health, anti-inflammatory benefits and the reduction of blood pressure. Like both pumpkins and apples, pecans can also prevent against multiple forms of cancer and strengthen the immune system.
Did you know pecans can also aid in your beauty regimen? It’s true! Pecans can help clear up complexions and prevent further skin issues while promoting anti-aging of the skin and preventing hair loss.
Another common holiday fare, butternut squash has surprisingly made its way into some great everyday recipes, even outside of the fall season. As with the foods we have reviewed, there are numerous health benefits to butternut squash and so many delicious ways to add it to your weekly meal plan.
One of the most important facts about butternut squash is the high potassium content. A one cup serving contains almost 500 mg of potassium, which can decrease blood pressure and help you avoid heart disease or stroke. That same one cup serving is also packed with vitamin A, which helps maintain healthy eyesight.
Butternut squash contains nearly half the daily dose of vitamin C, which contributes to healthier skin, building bone mass and boosting your immune system. Because it also has a high antioxidant content, it can have anti-inflammatory effects and may help reduce the risk of disorders like rheumatoid arthritis. And, if you’re looking to cut calories before the holidays, this super food has less than 100 calories and 26 carbohydrates in a one cup serving. From working it into your favorite salad, replacing your pasta with this healthy alternative, converting to a hearty soup or even some veggie chips, the possibilities are endless.
Like butternut squash, sweet potatoes are a versatile fall favorite that can be added to your daily diet in some fun and unique ways. While commonly seen at the Thanksgiving table smothered in marshmallows, there are some clear benefits to preparing sweet potatoes in a healthier alternative fashion.
We all know vitamins are critical to maintaining our daily health. Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamins C, B6 and D. These contribute to a healthy immune system, stronger bones and high energy levels along with a healthy heart, nerves, skin and teeth.
Sweet potatoes are also high in iron which aids in white blood cell production and resistance to stress. Magnesium also contributes to anti-stress and relaxation. They also contain the important electrolyte potassium which helps regulate heartbeat and nerve signals. Sweet potatoes are also a great way to boost your energy without the sugar spikes. They are naturally sweet tasting but slowly release into the bloodstream, helping provide balanced energy.
The vibrant orange color also indicates they are rich in carotenoids which help boost your immunity to disease and help to ward off cancer while protecting against the effects of aging.
Like butternut squash, sweet potatoes are so versatile that it is virtually impossible not to find a way to add them to your diet. Roasted, grilled, sautéed or baked, sweet potatoes can help provide that healthy boost you desire while still feeling true to the autumn season.