Sure, we all get excited for summer’s bounty of sweet berries and juicy watermelon, but there’s more to fall than Halloween costumes and hay rides. From September to November, the autumn harvest brings a variety of healthful and delicious produce, from squash and sweet potatoes to apples and pears.
While almost all produce can be grown somewhere year-round, trucking produce across the country (or across the world) isn’t easy. Buying local seasonal produce not only potentially reduces our carbon footprint and helps local economies, but it may also result in more nutritious produce.
So why not dig into fall fruits like apples and cranberries, which offer essential vitamins and antioxidants that slow aging and may help fight cancer? On the veggie side, the entire cruciferous family—that’s the cabbage, rutabaga, and cauliflower gang—is in season and offers a compound known as glucosinolates that may also have cancer-fighting potential. And who could forget about squash? These big, bright gourds offer healthy alpha- and beta-carotene, which promote good eyesight.
To get the best of what fall has to offer, check out my top 10 Best Produce for Autumn produce picks that are both delicious and super healthy, and keep track of what’s in season near you. Also don’t be afraid to try something new. (Who knew leeks or figs would taste so good?)
5. Pears: These sweet fruits fall into two major categories: European and Asian. In the U.S., the European varieties, Bosc and Bartlett, are most common, and grow on the west coast during fall. Pears are high in soluble fiber, which helps lower “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. To get that daily dose of fiber and to satisfy a sweet tooth, snack on the fruit whole or incorporate into recipes from filling breakfasts to healthier cocktails. 6. Pomegranates: Held sacred by many ancient religions, pomegranates have health benefits that have only been recognized more recently (POM juice, anyone?). While much of the research has been inconclusive, some studies suggest the fruit’s antioxidants may reduce the risk of cardiovascular complications like heart attacks. Early studies also suggest that pomegranate may help prevent breast and colon cancers, though results are far from conclusive.
10. Sweet Potatoes: These orange beauties have the best flavor during fall, their peak season. Like squash, sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, which can prevent vitamin A deficiencies, promote healthy eyesight and generate retinol production. Sweet potatoes are also a good source of vitamin C, and when eaten with their skin on, a medium tater can pack nearly four grams of fiber.