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Top Superfoods for Fall

Sunday, October 04, 2009

A wonderful article along with special fall foods ideas. Definitely worth the read!

I, for one, love the idea that there are superfoods -- certain edibles that go the extra mile in terms of nutritional chutzpah. They may not leap tall buildings, but superfoods are purported to fight the evil villains of heart disease, high cholesterol, cancer and a host of other diseases. Blueberries, for example, have become a superfood darling for their powerful punch of antoxidants -- and I have to say, they do seem pretty mighty to me.

That said, I think some of the trendy superfoods are stealing the spotlight from the true heart of the matter -- from the everyday heroes. It seems to me that almost any grain or produce that is grown organically, unprocessed and prepared gently, has much to offer. I just can't see a list of ten superfoods that earn obvious rank. In fact, if you look at 10 "Top 10 Superfoods" lists, you will see that they vary widely.

The truth is, most good food from nature is pretty super. So with that in mind, I like taking a seasonal approach. Rather than debating the merits of acai berries over goji berries, I prefer to look at what's in season, and work with the nutritional workhorses that I can get here and now. These are my favorites for fall, based primarily on nutritional variety and strength, but that also give me that primal, sensuous satisfaction that comes with eating what's in season:

I go crazy for these flavors come fall, and no wonder: The dark orange vegetable family outdoes all others in vitamin A content. Sweet potatoes are also packed with antioxidants, vitamin C, calcium, and potassium. Other dark orange vegetable standouts include pumpkin, carrots, butternut squash, and orange bell peppers.

Crucifers such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, collards and turnips contain indole alkaloids that may help prevent cancer. They are also high in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Along with their fabulous flavor, once you get the hang of cooking them, they may have an added bonus: they may help bolster memory as you age. Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that women who eat the most of these foods are the least likely to be forgetful.

Pomegranates have very high antioxidant activity, offering brain and memory protection. And research shows that drinking pomegranate juice may help with lowering the risk for hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis.

The pigment that gives beets their super-beautiful fuschia depth-betacyanin-is also a powerful cancer-fighting agent. Beets' potential effectiveness against colon cancer, in particular, has been demonstrated in several studies. Beets are also particularly rich in the B vitamin folate.

Garlic, onions, leeks, scallions, chives and shallots contain sulfur compounds that may protect against heart disease and some cancers, they can all help the liver eliminate toxins and carcinogens.

An excellent source of protein, antioxidants, folic acid, potassium, dietary fiber and complex carbohydrates, beans are flavorful, nutritionally dense, inexpensive and versatile. Read about heirloom varieties and cooking tips.

Several large studies suggest that the monosaturated fat in olive oil is good for the heart. Olive oil lowers bad cholesterol levels and increases good cholesterol. It is hgih in antioxidants -- and is one of the superstars of the Mediterranean diet. Recent research shows that heart-attack survivors on a Mediterranean diet had half the death rates of those on an ordinary low-fat diet.

8. TEA
The caffeine content in tea is useful for stimulating alertness, mood and motivation, but is also a rich source of the antioxidant called catechins. Studies suggest that catechins protect the artery walls against the damage that causes heart disease and prevents formation of blood clots. It also does wonders for the spirit on a cool autumn day.

(Hello! I LOVE that grape juice is FINALLY getting the equal *press* that it deserves!!!)

Grapes provide vitamin C, vitamin B1 and vitamin B6 -- red grapes also contain powerful phytochemicals (especially phenolics) that may help decrease risk of cardiovascular disease. These phenolic compounds are housed mostly in the skin of the red grapes, which is what makes red wine red and dark grape juice red or pruple. Resveratrol, a polyphenolic stilbene found in the skins of red fruits including grapes, may be responsible for some of the health benefits ascribed to the consumption of red wine. Resveratrol has been shown to have anti-oxidant, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory activity.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    yum! I like getting my produce delivered from a local certified organic CSA farm. There is always variety, and it's always in season. I've been getting a variety of squashes and small cooking pumpkins. It's fun to experiement with the variety!
    3122 days ago
    Great list - I try to eat these as often as possible.

    3122 days ago
    I agree!! Pumpkin and sweet potatoes are at the top of my list...ALL year long but especially fall. It's all about eating as close to the source as possible.

    DELICIOUS article!!

    3123 days ago
    Ok, here's 2 articles for making pumpkin puree instead of buying the canned stuff (this is NOT pumpkin pie filling that already has the spices added):

    Baking the pumpkin whole:


    Or cut up first:

    3123 days ago
    Great article, darlin. thanks for sharing. I have a question. Whenever I have a pumpkin or a squash...with very hard shell - my knife won't go thru it, and even if I manage to cut through, what should I DO with it? How do I cook it? favorite thai food, is pumpkin curry, because of the way the sweet soft pumpkin meat tastes...ummmmmmm.
    3123 days ago
    Oh LynnAnn -- tell us how you do it? Do you peel it first, etc.? Purdy plzease with brown sugar on it!!!
    3123 days ago
    emoticon for sharing, Maha!

    I have this urge to go bake a pumpkin something now! emoticon
    3123 days ago
    Great article, Maha. Thanks for sharing. Right up there with sweet potatoes and pumpkin for the fall are ACORN SQUASH.

    One of my Aussie friends made a delightful stuffed acorn squash. She cooked up gluten-free (for her) Lundberg brown wild rice, then sauteed it in olive oil, with garlic, and finely chopped red and green onions, baby tiny tomatoes (seriously way smaller than grape tomatoes), zucchini, kale and spices - MAJOR YUMMY AND HEALTHY!!!

    Apparently, they do not get acorn squash in Melbourne, so I'm checking into whether I can take her some - she was SO excited to see them at Whole Foods!

    I LOVE pumpkin - but at least here in KC, we have a canned pumpkin shortage!!! Not sure of the whys of it, but I know I found some yesterday and bought many cans, plus called a friend who I had given my supply to for her dog (of all things, it helps keep her dog regular!!! ROFLOL).

    Happy Fall!!!!!

    3123 days ago
    YUMMMMMMMMMM my favorite foods. I got butternut and spaghetti squash at the farmers market yesterday, along with some garlic and green onions. Some white turnips (which are the sweetest ever) complete with the greens for another meal. Love the fall season and the bounty it provides.

    3123 days ago
    Thanks for sharing this article.

    Have a good day, hear Maha.
    3123 days ago
    All yummy! Great foods -- I love pumpkin and winter squash whenever I can get them.

    Important and delicious information. Thanks for sharing this. emoticon
    3123 days ago
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