The fall season has begun, and cool breezes bring relief from summer’s heat. It’s also time for fall foods! Massachusetts has a longer harvest of cool-weather crops, so keep an eye out for seasonal fruits and vegetables in the produce aisle, at your local farmer’s markets, or the Fresh Truck here at Whittier on Tuesdays and Fridays.
People who eat generous amounts of fresh produce as part of a healthy diet are likely to have reduced risk of chronic diseases such as stroke, type-2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and heart disease. Buying fruits and vegetables in season ensures the best flavor and greatest value. Here are ten of the fruits and vegetables you may want to buy while the leaves turn:
Apples: Among the most cultivated tree fruits. A medium-sized apple has about 95 calories, 4 grams of dietary fiber, and a good dose of vitamin C. Apples also offer vitamin B6 and potassium. They can be consumed raw and crunchy, or baked into pies.
Broccoli: A health champion! A cup of broccoli has 50 calories, 4 grams of dietary fiber, and tons of vitamin C. It’s also a good source of vitamin A, vitamin B6, and potassium. Eat them raw, or microwave for 1-2 minutes to soften.
Cantaloupe: This flavorful melon is a nutritional powerhouse. Although it does top this list at 186 calories for one serving (500 grams), you also get 5 grams of dietary fiber, lots of vitamin A and vitamin C, and generous helpings of potassium, vitamin B6, and magnesium. Cantaloupes are usually enjoyed as slices—try some for dessert or a snack!
Cranberries: These berries have many proven health benefits. A cup of whole cranberries contains 46 calories, 4.6 grams of dietary fiber, good amounts of vitamin C and manganese, and a number of antioxidant compounds that may lower the risk of heart disease and high cholesterol. Enjoy them raw, in baked goods, as jam, or dried!
Cucumber: This member of the gourd family is usually used to beat the summer heat, but it sticks around for the fall, too. Half a cup gives you only 8 calories, as well as lots of vitamin K and potassium, and the peel is a good source of dietary fiber. Slice and eat raw, or add to soups or salads.
Eggplant: This vividly-colored nightshade is a versatile food. A cup of eggplant has a mere 20 calories, but packs 2.5 grams of dietary fiber, and a bunch of vitamin A (beta-carotene), B vitamins, folate, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorous. Eggplants can be steamed and eaten, or served as the main ingredient in omelets, parmigiana, and so on.
Grape: Known as the “queen of fruits.” One cup of grapes contains 62 calories, and is a good source of vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, carotenes, B-complex vitamins, copper, manganese, and iron. They’re a great snack, appetizer, or jam!
Pear: Look out for this popular fruit! A medium-sized pear has 102 calories, 6 grams of dietary fiber, and will also supply you with vitamin C, vitamin B6, copper, iron, potassium, manganese, and magnesium. Health experts recommend eating pears whole together with their skin—after washing them, of course!
Pumpkin: Ubiquitous during Halloween and Thanksgiving. A cup of this orange squash yields 30 calories, loads of vitamin A, and a good serving of potassium, copper, calcium, and phosphorus. It tastes great in pies, soups, pancake, or even just steamed and eaten as-is.
Winter squash: This starchy vegetable includes the very popular butternut squash among its ranks. A cup gives 40 calories, lots of vitamin A and vitamin C, and good amounts of vitamin B6 and potassium. Like its cousin the pumpkin, winter squash can be steamed and consumed, or made into a pie, soup, or other dish.
This list is just an introduction to all the nutritious food options we have this season to help with cholesterol, obesity, and healthy aging. Come see one of our registered dieticians in our Nutrition Department if you would like to develop a personalized nutrition plan!