As the fall season approaches and crisper weather begins to roll in, so do visions of pumpkins, cinnamon, and a cozy cup of coffee with all of the aforementioned flavors combined. Luckily enough, most of the most beloved fall flavors happen to be good for you! If you’re looking to head into the next season with a healthier approach, we’ve got all the best fall foods to work into your grocery list this autumn.
Don’t Skip Dessert
Along with a dizzying array of cinnamon-sprinkled fruits and warm, whipped cream-topped beverages, who doesn’t immediately start craving fresh-from-the-oven cookies at the first sign of sweater weather? Being good to your body and feeling your best doesn’t mean giving up the sweet things in life. While overdoing it on refined sugar can definitely wreak havoc on your health, between watching your portions and cooking at home with sugar alternatives, there’s no reason you can’t indulge in your favorite treats while also revamping your fall diet for a healthier year ahead.
Spice It Up
Ginger, cinnamon, turmeric (the stuff that gives yellow curry it’s vibrant coloring), peppermint, cayenne pepper (Mexican hot chocolate, anybody?)… there are a few seasons more fitting than autumn for these flavorful spices to work their way into your kitchen. But these festive flavors are more than the fancy décor of the world of taste. Often overlooked by the simpler of home chefs, these ingredients pack an impressive punch in the health department, too.
Ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon have impressive anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic inflammation is a prominent factor in the development of common illnesses including heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and even Alzheimer’s disease. But it gets even better. Cinnamon, for example, has been shown to slow down the breakdown of carbs and increase insulin sensitivity, which is important for keeping diabetes at bay. While this isn’t your green light to gorge on a whole batch of Snickerdoodle cookies, a cookie here and there, especially one made with sugar alternatives, might not be the worst thing.
Give Squash A Chance
One of the most overlooked yet important aspects of a healthy fall diet is eating seasonally, and squashes are kind of the it crowd of seasonal autumn produce. Besides its undisputed reign as the plant of the season, squash is basically an undercover superfood for all the health benefits these fall fruits provide. Firstly, squash is a great source of iron, an especially important nutrient for those who don’t eat red meat. Eating enough iron helps keep your blood healthy and prevent anemia, a health condition usually accompanied by less-than-desirable symptoms, fatigue, poor circulation, and general weakness to name a few.
Along with iron, squash is also packed with antioxidant-rich nutrients. Antioxidants are one of the best soldiers in the fight against chronic disease-causing free radicals. Long-term exposure to free radicals damages cells and paves the way for a variety of common illnesses like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, and we’re exposed to them every day.
Antioxidants are basically the holy grail of the health food world and one of the things that give blueberries their superfood status. However, be warned, research has shown that while antioxidants found naturally in plants (like squash for example) can reduce instances of chronic disease and cognitive decline, the same cannot be said for supplement versions. At least not to any significant extent. That being said, all the more reason to take advantage of the delicious whole foods growing in the garden.
Happy Healthy Fall
Who knew so many of America’s favorite fall foods could be so healthy? Between prioritizing plants and upgrading your favorite traditional sweet treats with recipes featuring sugar alternatives, fall is the perfect time to improve your diet and make way for a happy, healthy season.