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Seasonal Produce

round picture of various produce

Making seasonal fruits and vegetables your focus is a smart health strategy. In-season produce, eaten soon after it’s locally harvested, is allowed to reach its peak maturity, which means it’s chock full of nutrients and flavor. Here are five of the best options to load up on this fall.

1. Apples

Apples may not be as rich in vitamins and minerals as other fruits, but they’re loaded with antioxidants, and they’re a terrific source of fiber. One large apple packs over five grams of fiber, 20% of the minimum daily goal, a key nutrient for heart and digestive health, as well as weight control. Apples have also been shown to slash heart disease risk by decreasing “bad” cholesterol and upping “good” cholesterol. Other research links apples to better blood sugar regulation, lung function, and even an increase in muscle. Enjoy apples “as is,” sliced with nut butter, oven baked, whipped into smoothies, or added to savory dishes, like sautéed cabbage and stir frys..

2. Brussels Sprouts

One cup of cooked Brussels sprouts provides less than 70 calories, but packs over six grams of fiber. They’re also a great source of vitamin K, which helps clot blood and strengthen bones. Along with cauliflower, Brussels sprouts are a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, which has been linked to protection against both cancer and heart disease. To cook healthfully remove the outer leaves, slice in half lengthwise, toss with a little olive oil, roast in the oven, then lightly dust with cracked black pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon.

3. Cauliflower

Cauliflower provides several key nutrients, including fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin K, and folate. But its most impressive benefits are tied to other natural substances it packs, which have been shown to de-activate cancer causing substances, and “turn on” genes that kill cancer cells or slow their growth. Research also shows that compounds in cauliflower protect the bends and branches of blood vessels, areas most prone to cholesterol build-up and inflammation, which makes them a powerful heart protector. Oven roast cauliflower just like Brussels sprouts, or sauté florets in seasoned low sodium veggie broth. Cauliflower pureed with broth and flavored with olive oil, garlic, and herbs also makes a fantastic alternative to mashed potatoes.

4. Cranberries

In addition to helping prevent urinary tract infections cranberries have also been shown to fend off ulcers and gum disease. These beautiful gems have been shown to pack more phenol antioxidants, the type known to fight heart disease and certain cancers, than 19 other commonly eaten fruits and veggies. Fresh cranberries are only available for a limited time. Make a simple, healthy sauce by simmering them in fresh squeezed orange juice, sweetened with a little maple syrup. After they pop remove from heat, and season with pinches of ground cinnamon, clove, ginger, and orange rind, to serve hot or chilled.

5. Pumpkin

Pumpkin is one of the very best sources of vitamin A, which supports immunity, vision, and bone health. It’s also packed with fiber and antioxidants, and one cup of mashed pumpkin provides just 50 calories. To cook fresh pumpkin simply wash, remove seeds, slice into chunks, place on a baking sheet, brush with olive oil, and roast until tender. After rinsing and drying you can also roast the seeds alongside the flesh – they’re loaded with minerals, including magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc, as well as healthy fat, and bonus protein.