The 11 Healthiest Autumn Fruits and Vegetables
It's easy to eat lots of fruits and vegetables in the summer
when farmer's markets and fresh produce abound, but in order
to stay really healthy, it's important to keep eating them
A seven-year study in Public Health Nutrition of those between
the ages of 35 and 75 found that more people eat vegetables
and fruits on a daily basis during the summer. Not surprisingly,
though, it was those who ate them all year who had the most
protection against diseases like heart disease and cancer.
Here's the good news: there's more to autumn produce than
potatoes and squash. These 11 fruits and veggies are among
the healthiest "autumn harvest" foods you can eat.
Avocado is an excellent source of the healthy monounsaturated
fat, oleic acid, which has been shown to lower cholesterol
and protect against breast cancer. They're also rich in the
carotenoid lutein and vitamin E that, when combined with the
avocado's healthy fat, inhibit the growth of prostate cancer.
Try them on sandwiches, in salads, as garnishes for soups
and to make everyone's favorite--guacamole.
- Notable Nutrients: oleic acid, lutein, vitamin
E, vitamin K, fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin
Leeks are in the same family as garlic and onions, and have
many of the same healthy benefits. They've been found to lower
bad (LDL) cholesterol while raising good
(HDL) cholesterol, fight against cancer, including prostate
and colon cancers, and stabilize blood sugar levels.
Leeks have a milder, sweeter taste than onions and work great
in soups, sauces and sautéed with other vegetables.
They can also be used as a side dish on their own or as an
addition to salads (like onion).
- Notable Nutrients: manganese, vitamin C, iron,
folate, vitamin B6
Brussels sprouts belong to the cancer-fighting
cruciferous family of vegetables and are a rich source
of anti-cancer phytochemicals. They also help you get healthy
skin, protect the immune system, fight birth defects and rheumatoid
arthritis and support a healthy colon.
Use Brussels sprouts as a side dish seasoned with butter,
salt, pepper, cheese or lemon, or add them to soups and stews.
- Notable Nutrients: vitamin K, vitamin C, folate,
vitamin A, manganese, fiber, potassium, vitamin B6, tryptophan,
vitamin B1, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, phosphorus, protein,
magnesium, vitamin B2, vitamin E, copper, calcium
These little fruits contain lots of antioxidants and phytonutrients
that are protective of DNA. They also help control blood sugar,
protect the heart and colon, fight asthma and macular degeneration,
and can lower your risk of blood clots.
Kiwis are very tasty eaten alone (peeled) or can be added
to salads, chilled soups or fruit tarts.
- Notable Nutrients: vitamin C, fiber, potassium,
copper, magnesium, vitamin E, manganese
Green beans, one of the only beans that are eaten fresh,
contain lots of vitamin K for healthy bones and anti-inflammatory
nutrients that may reduce the severity of diseases where inflammation
plays a major role, such as asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid
arthritis. They also contain nutrients that have been found
to protect the heart, prevent colon cancer, and support the
immune system, skin and memory.
Green beans can be used traditionally in side dishes, casseroles,
stews and soups, or, be a little creative and try them cold
in tuna or chicken salad, as a salad with oil and vinegar
or added to a breakfast frittata.
- Notable Nutrients: vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese,
vitamin A, fiber, potassium, folate, iron, magnesium, thiamin,
riboflavin, copper, calcium, phosphorous, protein, omega-3
fatty acids, niacin
Another cruciferous vegetable, broccoli is a potent cancer
fighter. And, it fights heart disease, prevents cataracts,
helps build strong bones, protects against ulcers, rheumatoid
arthritis and birth defects and boosts the immune system.
This versatile vegetable is great raw or cooked, cold or
hot, in soups, salads, casseroles, stews or just by itself.
Cream of broccoli soup is always a fall favorite.
- Notable Nutrients: vitamin C, vitamin A, folate,
fiber, manganese, tryptophan, potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin
B2, phosphorus, magnesium, protein, omega-3 fatty acids,
vitamin B5, iron, calcium, vitamin B1, vitamin B3, zinc,
Eggplants contain phytonutrients that have antioxidant activity,
which makes them anti-cancer, antimicrobial, anti-viral and
good for lowering bad (LDL) cholesterol. They're also good
for the heart and contain an anthocyanin phytonutrient called
nasunin in their skin, which is a potent antioxidant and free
radical scavenger that has been shown to protect cell membranes
Eggplant can be baked, roasted or steamed, and can be eaten
with or without the skin. Try it sautéed with other
vegetables, in curries, or make your own Middle Eastern babaganoush
out of roasted eggplant, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil and
- Notable Nutrients: fiber, potassium, manganese,
vitamin B1, vitamin B6, folate, magnesium, tryptophan, vitamin
Popeye was right all along! Spinach is a nutrition powerhouse;
researchers have found at least 13 different flavonoid compounds
in it that function as antioxidants and anti-cancer agents.
It also contains lots of vitamin K for your bones, is protective
of the heart and against eye diseases such as age-related
macular degeneration and cataracts, contains lots of anti-inflammatory
nutrients and may help protect the brain from oxidative stress
and reduce the effects of age-related declines in brain function.
Spinach can be added to just about any meal for an easy nutrient
boost. Try it with eggs, pasta, fish -- even pizza -- and
use it instead of (or mixed with) lettuce in your salad.
- Notable Nutrients: vitamin K, vitamin A, manganese,
folate, magnesium, iron, vitamin C, vitamin B2, calcium,
potassium, vitamin B6, tryptophan, fiber, copper, vitamin
B1, protein, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin E, omega-3 fatty
acids, vitamin B3, selenium
Sweet potatoes have much more nutrition than regular potatoes.
They're rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients,
and are classified as an anti-diabetic food. They received
this title because animal studies have found they help stabilize
blood sugar levels and lower insulin resistance. The vitamin
A they contain also makes them protective against emphysema.
Use sweet potatoes in place of regular potatoes in all your
recipes. They're even good cold or as mashed potatoes and
oven-baked fries. Or, try them for dessert in sweet potato
pie, muffins or bread.
- Notable Nutrients: vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese,
copper, fiber, vitamin B6, potassium, iron
Apples are a traditional fall favorite, and one of the healthiest,
too. They're loaded with powerful antioxidants, including
quercetin, catechin, phloridzin and chlorogenic acid, protect
against breast and colon cancers, prevent kidney stones, and
help to lower bad cholesterol while raising the good kind.
Studies have also found that eating at least two apples a
week reduces the risk of asthma and type 2 diabetes, and promotes
Apples are an easy snack to take with you on-the-go, or try
them cut up with peanut butter, cheese or in salads, or in
homemade apple sauce.
- Notable Nutrients: fiber, vitamin C, vitamin
Pears contain antioxidants that help protect the body from
free radical damage, help promote heart and colon health,
and protect against macular degeneration. Interestingly, they're
also thought of as a hypoallergenic fruit (one that's not
likely to cause an allergic reaction) and are often recommended
as the first fruit to give to infants.
Pears can, of course, be eaten as is, but they can also be
poached or added to salads and oatmeal.
- Notable Nutrients: fiber, vitamin C, copper
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