Around this time of year, the warnings start: Don’t gain too much weight over the holidays! Avoid eating this food. And that one has a billion grams of fat, so avoid it, too. It can make every celebratory meal feel like an exercise in avoiding the off-limits food. But rather than thinking about all the potential for weight gain and sluggishness from our favorite fall and winter foods, let’s flip the script and look at all of the healthy benefits of the bountiful harvest fall brings.
There are so many healthy options in season this time of year, so there’s no better time than the present to celebrate fall foods and all of the benefits they can bring to your table — and body. Plus, it’s better to enjoy what you can buy on the cheap at the grocery store than waste a lot of money on out-of-season fruits that just don’t taste summer ripe. So don’t mourn those berries or waste any time waiting on your favorites to come back in season. Enjoy the foodie potential that fall brings. From apples to squash to pomegranate, fall has no shortage of deliciousness.
There are a number of ways to enjoy each of the following foods, but knowing there are so many good-for-you foods around this time of year makes autumn awesome. Besides, it’s better to focus on the good in all of your fall favorites and not feel guilty about that pumpkin pie splurge you know you’re going to have!
Read on for 9 good-for-you fall options that you should be throwing into your shopping cart.
9 Healthy Fall Foods to Put on Your Plate 1 of 10
These fall foods are festive and good for you!
Pumpkin 2 of 10
Pumpkin is THE fall food. From muffins to lattes to pies, pumpkin flavor is everywhere once October hits. But pumpkin has great health benefits, too. It has crazy amounts of vitamin A, and is a good source of vitamin E, C, folate, iron and fiber. If you're nervous to cook with pumpkin, try this Pumpkin Stuffed With Everything Good recipe that makes it super easy for pumpkin newbies. Don't let those seeds go to waste; they make an excellent snack for munching with a boost of manganese, magnesium and zinc. Plus, they're said to prevent kidney stones.
Photo credit: ReneS, Flickr
Apples 3 of 10
An apple a day may not keep the doctor away, but it is a great snack and is delicious this time of year! Apple polyphenols can help regulate blood sugar — preventing nasty spikes and crashes — and with antioxidants, vitamin C, and fiber, these fruits are beneficial to your cardiovascular health, and may even help prevent certain cancers.
Photo credit: Muffet, Flickr
Pomegranate 4 of 10
As soon as I see pomegranates hit the produce section at the grocery store, I know fall has arrived. Pomegranates are a fabulous food that you should definitely toss into your shopping cart, too. They're high in vitamin C and potassium, are a great source of fiber, and are low in calories. You can drink pomegranate juice or eat the seeds (which have a taste and texture totally distinct from any other fruit!), and feel good about what you're getting. Use it as a snack to munch on or throw them on a salad and enjoy lots of antioxidants.
Photo credit: ahisgett, Flickr
Cranberries 5 of 10
Not one to let pomegranates get all the red-fruit glory, cranberries are a fall super-fruit in their own right! Long touted as a natural way to promote urinary tract health (got a UTI? Drink cranberry juice!), cranberries are a good source of vitamin C, fiber and other antioxidants. Plus, they're good for dental health and taste delicious. Just watch for added sugars as cranberries already have a high sugar content.
Photo credit: Pen Waggener, Flickr
Turkey 6 of 10
The turkey is what the Thanksgiving meal is all about, and turkey is a great source of protein and selenium. It's also a low-fat meat, and clocks in at just 90 calories for 3 ounces of the bird sans skin. Don't cover it with gravy, and you can feel really good about this festive protein source!
Photo credit: delgaudm, Flickr
Squash 7 of 10
Pumpkin is the celebrated squash of the season, but so many other forms of squash should get attention, too. From butternut to spaghetti to acorn, the varieties that are in season in the fall and winter lend lots of options for autumn meals. Most are generally good sources of vitamins C and A, and the darker the squash the more nutrient dense it is.
Photo credit: fred_v, Flickr
Clementines 8 of 10
Clementines hit my grocery store in droves recently, and I couldn't be happier. I love these little citrus fruits as quick snacks, and my kids do, too. Which is why it's good that they're so easy to peel and my kids eat them up like candy. They're a staple throughout the cold months for us, and they're high in vitamin C and provide a good source of fiber.
Photo credit: tuchodi, Flickr
Sweet Potatoes 9 of 10
You can find sweet potatoes year-round, but when the weather cools, it's the perfect time to pull out sweet potato recipes. High in vitamins C and A, the sweet potato is a sweet way to get your nutrients that is also good for inflammation and controlling blood sugar. And who knew that sweet potatoes could even be purple inside?
Photo credit: Steve A Johnson, Flickr
Spices 10 of 10
Many of us typically buy our cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger in the spice aisle, but those spices aren't just rich with flavor: they're rich with nutritional value. Cinnamon, for example, may reduce inflammation and fight bacteria. Cloves are an excellent source of manganese and a very good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Nutmeg has been touted as a remedy for digestive issues, and ginger has helped many women suffering from morning sickness gain some relief from nausea. So enjoy a kick of a little spice on top of your pumpkin latte and know you're getting a kick of health!
Photo credit: mhiguera, Flickr
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