Fall foods

The benefits of seasonal eating.

It’s not uncommon to continue to buy the same produce all year round. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can become a very expensive habit. The price of produce often correlates directly to the season in which it is  produced and harvested. Shopping with the seasons can save money, and allow you to try many new things. For example, berries are typically lower in price from June to August, while foods such as Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes and cranberries are in season beginning in September and October. Michigan State University Extension states that these three fall foods have great health benefits and can be incorporated in several dishes. 

Brussels sprouts

  • 1/2 cup boiled contains 28 calories
  • Averages $2.79 per pound in season
  • 2 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber per 1/2 cup
  • Contains vitamins C, A, K, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphate, zinc, copper, calcium, manganese, selenium, potassium, and folate 

There are several health benefits to note in Brussels sprouts. The Vitamin K content provides 100 percent of its daily value to men and 91 percent of its daily value to women. Vitamin K is important for maintaining a healthy blood clotting system. It also aids in maintaining calcium in bones and keeping blood vessels from calcifying.

An important factor that Brussels sprouts contain is isothiocyanates. These may prevent cancer by promoting the elimination of potential carcinogens and it may also reduce the risk of heart disease. 

The folate provided in this cruciferous vegetable is beneficial to pregnant women. Folate protects against neural tube defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly, which can occur in the first few weeks of pregnancy.  It can also reduce the risk of preterm birth, congenital heart defects and other congenital abnormalities.

Sweet Potatoes

  • 1 cup cubed contains 114 calories
  • Averages $.89 per pound in season
  • 7 grams of fiber per serving
  • Contains vitamins C and E which are important for skin and hair health
  • Vitamin A, B6, K, Manganese and Potassium

Sweet potatoes are filled with vitamins and minerals that make for a healthy appearance. Vitamin A, also known as beta-carotene is a powerful cancer fighting antioxidant that also protects and maintains eye health. Vitamin A internally protects the skin from excess UV rays by repairing cell damage. Just one medium sweet potato provides over 100 percent of your recommended Vitamin A for the day.

The potassium found in sweet potatoes can lower blood pressure by getting rid of the excess sodium in our bodies. Potassium also maintains normal function of the brain and central nervous system. Manganese is found in large quantities in this particular food. Manganese is incredibly important for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels because it is a slowly digested carbohydrate, more commonly known as a “complex carb” that stabilizes appetite for hours. Sweet potatoes can be a very good carbohydrate choice for diabetics because it will help stabilize blood sugar levels and contains the extra Vitamin A needed for eye health.

Fresh Cranberries

  • 1 cup contains 45 calories
  • Average for a 1 pound bag is $2.00 in season
  • High in vitamin C, K, E, fiber and manganese

Cranberries are often consumed around the holidays in the form of a sauce or year round in the form of cranberry juice. Consuming cranberries in this form is often filled with added sugars and empty calories. Eating fresh cranberries will lead to many positive health changes and save you money.

Cranberries contain proanthocyanidins (PACs) which are related to the prevention of urinary tract infections (UTIs) and the prevention of plaque forming on teeth. How PACs work is that they act as a barrier to bacteria on the urinary tract lining and enamel of teeth. It’s also believed that eating fresh cranberries can kill the H. Pylori bacteria which cause stomach cancer and ulcers. Cranberries also stay ripe for a long period of time. They can be stored fresh in an air locked bag for up to two weeks in the refrigerator or cooked in an air tight container for up to one month. They can also be washed, drained and frozen for up to a year.

These three fall favorites can easily be incorporated into your meals. Sweet potatoes are excellent baked with apples or mashed with a little brown sugar. Brussels sprouts can be roasted in the oven or steamed on a stovetop and tossed with olive oil. Fresh cranberries can be incorporated into muffins, casseroles and in salads. A good way to find these fruits and vegetables is to stop by your local farmer’s markets this fall. Visit the SNAP recipe finder for more ideas and recipes.

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