Fall is here! That means that there are a whole host of delicious, healthy, Fall season foods for you to incorporate into your diet.
While most products can be grown somewhere in the world at all times of the year, choosing local seasonal produce delivers several benefits.
Choosing to buy local seasonal produce is beneficial because:
- Buying seasonally supports local farmers and businesses, bolstering the local economy and promoting job growth.
- Seasonal produce tastes better. You can buy many types of produce throughout the year, but fruits and veggies taste their best when they are in season and fresh off the vine.
- Buying seasonal foods helps us reduce our carbon footprint. Local foods don’t have to be frozen, loaded onto a semi-truck, and shipped across the country or even internationally.
- Local seasonal produce is typically more nutritious because local produce is more likely to be allowed to ripen naturally and be grown with care, compared to larger national farming operations.
5 Healthy Fall Season Foods
If you’re looking for seasonal fall foods that would be a healthy addition to a balanced diet, consider these 5 options:
They’re delicious and jam-packed with vitamins, flavonoids, and antioxidants. One of those antioxidants, quercetin, has been found to reduce cellular death that is caused by oxidation and inflammation of neurons. Apples also contain high levels of boron, which has been shown to increase electrical activity in the brain, which is associated with improved memory and better cognitive function.
With more than 7,500 different varieties of apples to choose from, there are an unending number of flavors to snack on or incorporate into fall-time meals. Apple cider vinegar has also been connected to numerous benefits.
Beets have been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce your risk of heart disease, and improve focus by increasing blood flow to the frontal lobe. They are typically available year-round but are at their best when they are in season — late summer through fall. There are a variety of beet types including purple, golden, white, and multi-colored. Pickle, juice, or roast, your beets to make them an easy addition to your autumn meals as a side dish.
Cranberries are a low-calorie food that is rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin K. Research suggests that cranberries may help to reduce the intensity of urinary tract infections in women. The polyphenols in cranberries may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by preventing platelet build-up and reducing blood pressure. Cranberries taste their best during October and November when they are in season.
Squash is a rich source of beta-carotene, which can prevent vitamin A deficiencies and may slow cognitive decline. Yellow squash is high in vitamins A, B6, and C. They also contain folate, magnesium, fiber, riboflavin, phosphorus, and potassium.
During the autumn months, summer squash begins to fade away in local produce sections. However, winter squash soon begins to take its place. Winter squash types include acorn squash, blue Hubbard, butternut, delicata, and spaghetti among others.
5. Sweet Potatoes
The benefits of sweet potatoes make them a natural substitute for their less nutritious cousin, white potatoes, which are a staple in American diets. Unlike white potatoes, sweet potatoes are high in beta-carotene, which some studies have shown can help slow cognitive decline with aging.
Sweet potatoes also contain high levels of phytosterols, which have been shown to promote a healthy digestive system and protect against gastric ulcers. Additionally, sweet potatoes are high in fiber, which promotes a healthy digestive system. Their orange color and sweet starchy flavor make them a unique and delicious addition to any autumn meal.
Where to Find Healthy Local, Fall Season Foods
The sad truth is that while the produce section at your local supermarket likely does contain a “local foods” section, they often pale in comparison to what you can find at your local farmer’s markets and locally-owned grocery stores. Luckily, the USDA makes a local regional food directory available to help you find local sellers.