Healthy Fall Foods

Carrots, Apple and Butternut SquashOctober, football, and leaves changing colors represent my favorite time of the year, Fall. Days get shorter and the air outside becomes cooler. Summer sport leagues are over and before we know it, snow will be falling. With less and less time being spent outside, more opportunities to get into the kitchen and gym arise. Fall also brings an abundance of seasonal foods that can greatly support your fitness goals while training at Spartan Strength. Apples, squash, and carrots are just a few of the many, delicious and nutritious foods that arrive with Fall weather. Each have their own benefits and incorporating them into your weekly meal preparation is easier than you think.

Apples

Although numerous varieties of apples exist, they all share common attributes that are highly beneficial for our health. Phytonutrients, flavonoids, and polyphenols found in an apple aid in regulation of blood sugar through various mechanisms including carbohydrates enzyme inhibition and slow glucose absorption in the digestive tract. Each apple provides nearly 20% of the daily recommended intake of fiber. In combination, the phytonutrients and fiber elicit prolonged satiety and major cardiovascular benefits. When consumed on a daily basis, apples have shown to decrease LDL-cholesterol and help prevent Parkinson’s disease. Hence the saying, “An apple a day, will keep the doctor away”.

Squash

Planted in the spring and tended to all summer, squash provide nutritious benefits to those who wait patiently for their harvest. Acorn, butternut, buttercup, and cushaw varieties can be found at both the grocery store and local farmer’s market. The antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals in fresh fruit and vegetables found throughout Spring and Summer may seem hard to find after cold weather arrives. Surprisingly, winter squash serve as a perfect replacement for those sought after nutrients. Carotenoid antioxidants such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin are abundant in the various squash varieties. In addition to providing vitamin A, B6, C, & K, potassium, folate, tryptophan, copper, and magnesium, winter squash is also established as a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. A one cup serving provides 340 milligrams of inflammation fighting omega-3’s.

Carrots

Whether eaten raw, roasted, boiled, or steamed it is hard to go wrong when carrots are added to any meal. No, I am not referring to the “baby” carrots whom are uniformly cut, cleaned, prepackaged, and available at the grocery store year-round. The best carrots, in both nutrition and taste, are those grown locally and freshest during the fall and winter months. Hidden beneath the soil all summer, carrots simply transform the sun’s energy, along with carbon dioxide and water, into nutrient dense and delicious roots. Typically thought of as orange, carrots are also colored white, yellow, red, and purple and have been cultivated for hundreds of years. In light of the numerous colors, carrots also deliver a host of phytonutrient antioxidants including carotenoids, hydroxycinnamic acids, and anthocyanindins. Although research suggests individual benefits of these phytonutrients, the synergistic effect they have towards cardiovascular and eye health when consumed together provides superb reasoning to practice your inner Bugs Bunny and munch on some crunchy carrots this Fall.

References

Data, S. N. (2013, October 8). Nutrition Facts, Carrots, raw. Retrieved from Self Nutrition Data: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2383/2

Foundation, T. G. (2013, October 8). Apples. Retrieved from The World’s Healthiest Foods: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=15

Foundation, T. G. (2013, October 8). Carrots. Retrieved from The World’s Healthiest Foods: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=21

Foundation, T. G. (2013, October 8). Sqaush, Winter. Retrieved from The World’s Healthiest Foods: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=63

Gao, X., Cassidy, A., Schwarzschild, M., Rimm, E., & Ascherio, A. (2012). Habitual intake of dietary flavonoids and risk of Parkinson disease. Neurology, 1138-1145.

Jayaprakasam, B., Seeram, N., & Nair, M. (2003). Anticancer and antiinflammatory activities of cucurbitacins from Cucurbita andreana. Cancer Letters, 11-16.

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