Pumpkin spice lattes and apple pie might be on your list of favorite fall foods, but they’re not exactly healthy. The good news is that there are plenty of seasonal ingredients that can pack a ton of nutrition — and flavor — into your diet this fall, without lots of fat and sugar. Try these 13 foods and some of our favorite recipes that use them!
An apple a day might really keep the doctor away. In addition to containing 13.9% of your daily recommended vitamin C intake, apples offer antioxidant, cardiovascular and anti-cancer benefits. Don’t peel off the skin! It contains most of the insoluble fiber — which helps keep you regular — plus plenty of vitamin C and folate.
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It’s a shame Brussels sprouts aren’t appreciated as much as they should be. While notoriously disliked by many, they offer hefty amounts of vitamins K and C, and their nutrients support three systems that are crucial to cancer prevention: the body’s detox system, antioxidant system and anti-inflammatory system. They’re also known to lower cholesterol.
Recipe: Baked Brussels sprouts
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This wonderfully inexpensive veggie is loaded with vitamins K and C. Plus, it’s been known to boost digestive health, lower cholesterol and provide anti-inflammatory benefits. According to the World’s Healthiest Foods, the glucosinolates found in cabbage can be converted into compounds that help prevent such cancers as bladder cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer and prostate cancer.
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Groceries stock carrots year-round, but you’ll find the most flavorful ones during summer and fall. It’s astounding how much vitamin A is in this root veggie: Just 1 cup packs 407.6% of your daily recommended intake! You probably already know about carrots’ contribution to eye health, but they also have anti-cancer and cardiovascular benefits.
Recipe: Creamy carrot soup (no cream!)
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Just 1 cup of cauliflower contains 85.9% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C. This cruciferous veggie helps your body’s detox system, antioxidant system and anti-inflammatory system. By helping your maintain your body’s proper functioning, it simultaneously helps prevent cancer.
Recipe: Curried cauliflower
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When it comes to disease-fighting antioxidants, cranberries outrank almost every fruit and vegetable. They help prevent urinary tract infections and provide anti-inflammatory benefits for the cardiovascular system and the digestive tract. They’ve also been shown to lower the frequency of cold and flu symptoms.
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Your heart will thank you for eating this root veggie, which contains plenty of potassium and folate — two nutrients important for cardiovascular health. You’ll also get a fair amount of antioxidant power from vitamins C and E, as well as the bone-health benefits from vitamin K and manganese.
Recipe: Roasted Parmesan parsnips
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If you’re looking for fiber, get some pears on your plate! They’re one of the highest-fiber fruits and also contain vitamins C and K. Once again, don’t strip the skin! It contains at least three to four times as many antioxidants, anti-inflammatory flavonoids and potentially anticancer phytonutrients.
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Persimmons pack plenty of fiber — just one contains a quarter of your recommended daily value — and the type of fiber (pectin) helps regulate blood-sugar levels. According to FitSugar, they may also help relieve bloating and constipation.
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As long as you stay away from the pie, pumpkins can be a healthy addition to your diet. They’re not only low in calories but also loaded with vitamin A and fiber. Don’t throw out the seeds either! They’re packed with tons of antioxidants and nutrients, including manganese, tryptophan, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc.
Recipe: Pumpkin gnocchi
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These orange tubers contain more than your daily requirement of vitamin A, nearly a third of vitamin C you need, almost 15% of your daily dietary fiber intake and 10% of the necessary potassium, according to Livestrong. They also contain a good deal of antioxidants like beta-carotene and vitamin C, which help eliminate cancer-friendly free radicals in the body.
Recipe: Old Bay roasted sweet potatoes
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In season October through March, turnips are a low-calorie way to get your vitamin C, fiber, B vitamins, calcium and potassium. Buy them with the greens still intact — they’re loaded with vitamins A and K.
Photo credit: William Abranowicz; Epicurious.com
A single cup of winter squash contains almost half of your daily vitamin C intake, and orange varieties like butternut squash are loaded with heart-disease-fighting carotenoids. The fiber you’ll find in this fall favorite will also keep you feeling full longer.
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