Fall is the perfect time to enjoy some of the most delicious, versatile, and plentiful superfoods available. From the perennial favorites, pumpkins, and squash, to fresh salmon, Brussels sprouts, and sweet potatoes, enjoy the season’s harvest and boost your immune system naturally. Here is a list of ten of the best and easiest-to-find, nutritionally rich superfoods you should include in your diet this season.
Pumpkins are an incredible superfood, packing vitamins A and C, and other vital nutrients. They’re not just delicious—they’re healthy, too. Pumpkins have many benefits. They are anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, hydrating, and high in antioxidants. The seeds are tiny powerhouses full of Omega-3 fatty acids, proteins, and vitamins that are good for your brain. Pumpkin pie, anyone?
2. Winter Squash
Much like their pumpkin cousins, winter squash, such as butternut or acorn squash, are packed full of valuable vitamins and minerals. Winter squash is also an excellent antioxidant source for carotenoids, as well as vitamin A and beta-carotene. These antioxidant properties fight the effects of aging and may lower the risk of developing breast cancer.
Fall is the time when the annual salmon run takes place in many parts of the country. It’s an excellent opportunity to add some of the most delicious and nutritious types of protein to your diet. Salmon is a fatty fish, full of omega-3 fatty acids that protect against stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, and some autoimmune diseases. How much fatty fish should you eat and how often? As much as you can, as often as you can. If you can, fresh salmon is preferable, but canned or frozen is fine, too.
4. Brussels Sprouts
This wonderful green vegetable is a seasonal favorite and the perfect side dish for any fall dinner. Brussels sprouts are nutrient-rich and jam-packed with fiber, vitamin C, Vitamin A, iron, and potassium. Not only are they antioxidant and vitamin-rich, but they’re also a good source of protein and vitamin K (half a cup equals 2 grams of protein and over 100 RDA of vitamin K.)
These sweet and crunchy fruits not only taste great, but they are an excellent source of dietary fiber and immune-system boosting vitamins. You can gain four grams of fiber and up to 14 percent of the RDA of vitamin C from one apple. If you’re working out at the gym, take an apple to snack on. They contain an essential antioxidant, quercetin, that helps get more oxygen to your lungs.
This fruit is high in antioxidants like ellagic acid, which is known to reduce inflammation and fight both heart disease and many types of cancer, including prostate cancer. Pomegranate juice improves blood flow to your heart and sexual organs, too. Perhaps this is the reason that the Greeks claim that Aphrodite planted the first pomegranate tree on Cyprus!
Besides being incredibly delicious, tomatoes, especially when cooked, are a rich source of lycopene, the antioxidant compound that gives them their vibrant red color. Eating tomatoes may help to reduce the risk of heart disease, as well as breast, lung, and even prostate cancer. Tomatoes are packed with other essential nutrients, including vitamins A, C, E, and potassium.
8. Bell Peppers
For a boost in vitamin C to help get your immune system ready for the winter season, eat lots of bell peppers—especially red bell peppers. They’re not just a great addition to salads or pizza, but they’re also a great way to get some much-needed beta carotene into your diet. It may not seem possible, but a bell pepper has three times as much vitamin C as an orange does.
9. Kale and Swiss Chard
These dark-green leafy vegetables contain lutein, which helps protect against macular degeneration and cataracts. Kale and swiss chard are extremely rich in beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, and folate. These veggies are also high in calcium, which is vital for strong bones, and high in magnesium, which helps keep nerve and muscle cells healthy.
10. Sweet Potatoes
Much more nutritionally dense than their white-potato counterparts, these seasonal favorites are both a delicious and healthy choice. They are an excellent source of vitamin A and iron, as well as some anti-inflammatory benefits. So, this holiday season, enjoy your sweet potatoes without feeling guilty.
Including these vitamin and nutrient-rich superfoods in your diet will help to boost your immune system and prepare you for the upcoming winter season. Chock full of valuable vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, these fall superfoods are the first line of defense against the effects of aging and disease. The best thing is that they are all readily available—check your local farmers’ market and supermarket produce departments on your next shopping trip.