With its vibrant colors, crisp cool air, and bountiful harvest, fall is a season that evokes a sense of comfort. It's a time to gather around the table with family, and enjoy the hearty comfort foods you crave. Chili, stew, pot roast, casseroles, pork chops and roasted chicken are just a few of the much-loved favorites of the season, and they all go exceptionally well with the glorious fruits and vegetables that reach their peak of ripeness during the autumn harvest. When you celebrate the season by indulging in these 10 favorite foods and flavors of fall, you'll be pleasing your palate and reaping in numerous health benefits as well.
Historically, the arrival of fall marked the beginning of apple season in America. Though we are lucky to be able to enjoy apples all year long, this much-loved fruit is still largely associated with the season of autumn. Apples are a source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, which help keep your heart healthy by helping to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of hardening arteries. They are also low in fat and Sodium, and high in Vitamin C.
With its deep-orange flesh and sweet flavor, butternut squash is a fall favorite. A type of winter squash, it contains Potassium, which can help lower blood pressure. Winter squash is also an excellent source of beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant that may help prevent the oxidation of cholesterol in the body. Beta-carotene also has anti-inflammatory effects, which is believed to help ease the severity of symptoms caused by asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.
This spice has been loved for centuries for the wonderful flavor and aroma it lends to sweet and savory dishes alike, and for its healing properties, as well. Cinnamon is a very good source of Calcium, Iron and dietary fiber, and an excellent source of Manganese. Manganese can help maintain normal blood sugar levels, while both Calcium and fiber can help keep your colon healthy. Cinnamon is also thought to boost brain activity, and its warming qualities are considered by some to be a natural remedy that can help relieve cold symptoms.
Many of the most delicious dishes prepared during the coolest months of the year are flavored with cloves. Wonderfully aromatic, this spice comes whole or ground, and is a delicious addition to cool weather favorites like roasted vegetables, chili and stews, as well as many desserts. It is a source of eugenol, which is studied for its nutritional benefits, as it acts as an anti-inflammatory substance. Cloves also contain Manganese, dietary fiber, Vitamin C, Calcium, Magnesium and Flavonoids!
Fennel may look like a plump bunch of celery, but its flavor certainly sets it apart; it has a mild sweet flavor akin to licorice or anise. Fennel also has a unique combination of phytonutrients, and is an excellent source of Vitamin C. Fennel, because of its Vitamin C content, can help keep your immune system healthy and functioning, which aids in the prevention of common winter and fall illnesses like the cold or flu.Roasted fennel makes a lovely side dish to many meat entrees and is also a great addition to fall stews.
Though it's available year round, many fresh crops of garlic are harvested in the fall. Garlic has a wonderful, unmistakable and distinctive flavor that is used in many savory recipes. Tremendously versatile, it is healthy too. Garlic contains the amino acid alliin, which scientists say has antibiotic and bactericidal effects. It is also believed to help promote cardiovascular activity and have a beneficial, soothing effect on the respiratory system.
For centuries, ginger has been used to relieve symptoms caused by gastrointestinal distress. Pungent and aromatic, it can help relax the intestinal tract, and research shows that it contains therapeutic properties as well. Ginger also works as an anti-inflammatory, which can help reduce joint pain and increase mobility for people suffering from conditions such as rheumatoid and osteoarthritis.
Sweet, juicy and fragrant, pears are a nutritious and delicious seasonal sensation. Pears contain Vitamin C and Copper, which can help protect the body from free radical damage. Vitamin C also stimulates the white blood cells in their fight again certain viruses and bacteria, helping you stay healthy. Pears are also a source of fiber, which is a truly important nutrient for a variety of reasons. Fiber can help protect against certain kinds of cancer, and keep your digestive tract healthy and properly functioning.
Low in calories, high in fiber, and packed with vitamins C and A, sweet potatoes are a wonderfully delicious source of key vitamins and nutrients. This orange-fleshed root vegetable, like many other orange and yellow fruits and vegetables, is an excellent source of beta-carotene. Along with Vitamin C, these two very powerful Antioxidants help protect cells and cell membranes from damaging free radicals. Vitamin B6 is also found in sweet potatoes, which may help aid in the prevention of a stroke or heart attack.
Dark leafy greens like Swiss chard are some of the healthiest foods you can eat. Swiss chard contains vitamin K, which is essential in maintaining the health and strength of your bones. If the body lacks Magnesium, it can lead to conditions that may include muscle spasms, cramps, soreness, fatigue and tension. Swiss chard is also an excellent source of Vitamin A, which aids in eye health, and Vitamin C, which helps keep your immune system strong.