A blast of summer heat is predicted to hit the East Coast this week followed by a precipitous decline in something more fall-like with temperatures going below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s as sure a signal as anything that summer and the time for warm weather fare are waning. To fortify you for the upcoming season, here are some packed-with-nutrient superfoods that can not only nourish your body but also foster a sense of well-being.
Long associated with the start of fall, apples imported from halfway around the world are now available year-round in the produce section of your local store. Fall is when you can pick them locally; seek out organic fruit, which can give you all the more reason to eat the skin without worrying about pesticide residue. Apple’s skins contain the antioxidant quercetin and the fruits themselves contain calcium, Vitamin C and folate.
The deep violet-red color of these vegetables comes from betacynanin, which has been shown to have cancer-fighting properties (especially for fighting colon cancer). Beets also contain B vitamin, folate, manganese and potassium. They can also be yellow or, if they’re Chioggia beets, striped pink-and-white.
3. Brussel Sprouts
I confess: I personally adore this much-maligned vegetable and enjoy them the simplest way possible, steamed with a dash of pepper. Even if you are not an aficionado like me, you might try a few and take advantage of the Vitamin C (more than in an orange), Vitamin K, calcium and folate they contain. Roast them with some olive oil, spices and garlic or chop them up and saute.
With a high amount of fiber, a number of fat-soluble B-vitamins and the trace mineral, manganese (an antioxidant that soaks up free radicals and is linked to reduced risk for cancer and heart disease), chestnuts shouldn’t only be thought of as roasting on a open fire. Once roasted (in your oven, which is probably more convenient for most of us than said open fire) they can be combined into salads, chopped up and added to oatmeal or eaten on their own.
5. Green Tea
The benefits of green tea cannot be overstated: it has been shown to reduce inflammation and bad cholesterol and also to help with weight loss, keeping your teeth healthy and staving off Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. With temperatures cooling down, why not brew yourself a hot cup?
No longer just another of those leafy, spinach-like greens in the vegetable aisle, kale is now often touted as a true superfood. Eat a cup raw and you’ll get more Vitamin K than from any other leafy green; it’s also high in beta-carotene. Kale and Brussel sprouts are both cruciferous vegetables; others include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collards and turnips and all come with their share of vitamins and minerals.
Containing Vitamin C, manganese, potassium and calcium (depending on where the fruits originate from), persimmons must be eaten when fully ripe to enjoy their sweetness (and to avoid a mouthful of a very chalky fruit that will make your mouth pucker). When I first tried a persimmon from my aunt’s Sacramento backyard, I thought they tasted better than pudding. You can also mix them into an actual pudding, a pie and bread (as my aunt used to do).
Bypass those bottles of pomegranate juice and go for the real thing. Slice open one of the fruits to find the arils, the ruby red seed packs that contain antioxidants and also tannins, which have been shown to lower “bad” cholesterol and to be beneficial for your heart.
It’s impossible not to mention pumpkins, which have many uses besides carving (if you celebrate Halloween). Half a cup of pumpkin contains vitamin A in the form of beta carotene and about 10 percent of your daily dose of potassium. Pumpkin seeds also contain their share of healthy fats and oils. Don’t forget other dark orange vegetables including butternut squash, carrots and sweet potatoes — their deep orange color says fall like nothing else.
10. Red Wine
Consumed in moderation, red wine has been linked to keeping your heart healthy by increasing levels of “good” cholesterol and preventing artery damage. Scientists aren’t sure why but suspect that antioxidants — flavonoids or a substance called resveratrol — may play a part. If you’d prefer to avoid alcohol, purple grape juice and non-alcoholic red wine have also been shown to have some of red wine’s benefits.
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