Heading into cooler weather typically means we are heading into cold and flu season. It is also the time in which we start gearing up for the holiday season and start enjoying all of our favorite fall foods and crossing our fingers we will avoid holiday weight gain.
Isn’t it interesting that all of the fruits and vegetables that come into season during the fall are loaded with vitamins and antioxidants that keep our immune systems strong? Fall produce is loaded with nutrition that help our bodies stay healthy and avoid weight gain. Add the following fruits and vegetables to your next meal to protect you this season.
Apples and Pears
Apples and pears are both widely grown here in North Carolina and it is important to take advantage of that. They each provide 4 grams of fiber per serving and are beneficial to your weight by making you fuller and eat less. Just don’t eat fewer apples and pears. They are full of flavonoids, heart healthy antioxidants, in their skins that in pears have been shown to reduce type 2 diabetes risk. Baked or poached apples or pears make a great dessert replacement for the fall season.
Kiwis contain more vitamin C than an orange. One of the ways vitamin C helps our immune system is by maintaining our skin, our body’s first line of defense against germs. Kiwi also contains dietary fiber, potassium, magnesium and vitamin E. Folate and magnesium are two vitamins that help provide your body with energy so you can stay active as the weather gets cool. Make a fresh salsa with kiwi for fish taco night.
Pumpkins and Winter Squash
Pumpkins are good for more than just pies and jack-o-lanterns. Like other winter squash varieties butternut and acorn squash, pumpkin pulp is dense with fiber, iron, and vitamins A and C. Beta-carotene gives pumpkin it’s orange color and is used in the body to make vitamin A. Pumpkins also have more potassium than a banana, making it a great for a post-workout veggie session. Pumpkins seeds also provide numerous benefits by lowering LDL cholesterol levels and boosting mood levels.
Maple is in as the new pumpkin spice this fall. Pure maple syrup is a natural and healthy sweetener that has a lower glycemic index and fewer calories than honey, but both have antimicrobial properties. Current research in Canada shows that an extract from maple syrup dramatically increases the potency of several antibiotics. Although maple syrup doesn’t seem to have this effect on its own, you can combine this sweet syrup, in moderation, to your other immune-boosting foods. Use it to sweeten a latte, toss with roasted sweet potato wedges, top whole-wheat waffles or pancakes, or drizzle a maple-mustard vinaigrette over a green salad.
People often focus too much on certain ingredients or compounds. Like the maple syrup extract and antibiotics, the power in the food is how they work together. It is important to eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats to stay in good health. Fight sickness naturally this season by incorporating your favorite fall foods into your daily menu today.
The Richmond County Cooperative Extension’s goal is to provide the residents of the community with research-based knowledge. For more information on food safety, health, wellness and nutrition, contact Janice Roberts, family and consumer sciences agent, at 910-997-8255.