Seasonal transitions can often be hard on our immune systems, leaving us feeling unbalanced, so it’s extra important to take care of ourselves as we move into fall and winter. Nutrition plays an important role in helping us stay healthy and vital as the air gets colder and drier. Fortunately, autumn foods are some of the most nutritious and delicious. In general, it’s a great idea to eat hot, nourishing foods like soups and stews — and pairing them with warming spices like cinnamon, ginger, and turmeric can give your immune system even more of a boost. Let’s take a look at some of my favorite nourishing foods naturally available to us in the fall season.
Winter Squash: Winter squash is packed with antioxidants, fiber, and vitamin C to keep immune systems healthy throughout the fall and winter. There are a lot of different varieties (including butternut squash, acorn squash and pumpkin), but my favorite winter squash is kabocha (also called Japanese pumpkin). Try roasting them or making them into soups for a delicious fall treat.
Pumpkin seeds: Pumpkin seeds are a fantastic source of magnesium, which is responsible for healthy metabolic function (most of us are deficient in it). These seeds also contain zinc for immune support, and plenty of plant-based omega-3s. For the most benefits, consume pumpkin seeds raw — but you can also try your hand at roasting them yourself straight from the gourd.
Apples: Apples have a big reputation for keeping us healthy, and they’re abundant and fresh in the fall. Apples are rich in disease-fighting compounds like antioxidants, phytonutrients ,and Vitamin C, which help keep immune systems strong. The sweetness of apples can also be a great way to curb those sweet cravings without processed sugar. It’s very important to choose organic apples, though — the average conventional apple has more pesticides on it than any other fruit or vegetable! So enjoy apples responsibly.
Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potatoes are a nutritional powerhouse when compared to regular white potatoes. Their orange flesh contains vitamins A, C, and E, which makes them anti-inflammatory and great for the skin. In addition to their vitamins and antioxidants, they have more fiber than white potatoes, so the energy is burned by the body more slowly and efficiently. Try them oven-roasted with your favorite spices, or pureed into a soup.
Brussels Sprouts: If you want to lower your cancer risk, cruciferous vegetables, including Brussels sprouts, are the way to go. Research has shown that the nutrients in cruciferous vegetables can aid in reducing the production of free radicals, which can fight and prevent disease. They’re high in vitamins C and K, and taste amazing when you roast them and pair them with tahini sauce.