From the crisp autumn air against our cheeks, to the brightly colored foliage gently cascading from their branches, to the smell of cinnamon from a warm mug filled with hot apple cider; Fall is all around us in the colors and aromas that occupy our every sense. Fall foods are often the focal point of joyous family festivities and harvest traditions, but did you know that many of our colorful fall favorites are bursting with cancer-fighting, nutrient rich vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals.
Many of the deep rich colors found in fall fruits and vegetables come from phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are natural plant chemicals that have disease preventive, antioxidant properties. Some well-known phytochemicals are lycopene in tomatoes, isoflavones in soy, and flavonoids in fruits. The antioxidants in these phytochemicals help protect the body by neutralizing free radicals, increasing immune function and decreasing the risk of infection and cancer. Antioxidants also exist as vitamins such as A, C and E, and in minerals, such as copper, magnesium, & zinc.
Most of the foods listed here are seasonal and, thus, only found fresh in your produce market in the autumn and winter months. Take advantage of their cancer-fighting power by incorporating these into an array of home-cooked recipes including hot soups and salads.Pumpkin/Squash-
The bright orange color of pumpkin is a dead giveaway that pumpkin is loaded with an important antioxidant, beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is one of the plant carotenoids converted to vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant, in the body. Pumpkin and squash also boast other carotonoids as well as the antioxidants vitamins C and E. This makes it useful as a protection against cancer. Hint: Don’t ditch the seeds! Pumpkin seeds are a particularly good source of heart healthy, omega-3.Nuts-
Anyone for chestnuts roasting on an open fire? Tree nuts contain a wide variety of compounds with antioxidant properties including vitamin E, minerals and other phytochemical compounds such as polyphenols; they are therefore an ideal source of antioxidants for the human body. Antioxidants such as vitamin E
are believed to help protect cell membranes against the damaging effects of free radicals. The tree nuts that are richest in antioxidants are walnuts, followed by pecans. Hazelnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, pine kernels, pistachios and cashews also contain significant concentrations. Just be careful not to eat too many. Although these tasty little treats are power-packed with goodness, they’re also high in fat and should be eaten in moderation.Pomegranate-
Pomegranate has been shown to contain a number of powerful antioxidant compounds including polyphenols. The active constituent that appears to be responsible for its multiple health benefits is Ellagic acid. A recent study found that pomegranate juice exhibits three times greater antioxidant activity than other bioflavonoids such as red wine or green tea.Cranberries-
One of North America’s 3 native fruits, low in calories and rich in vitamin C. Compared with 19 other fruits, cranberries ranked number one for the antioxidant phenol. The best choices are fresh and dried cranberries. The lowest level of antioxidants is found in high-sugar cranberry drinks and cranberry cocktails.Apples-
Yes, it’s true; an apple a day does keep the doctor away! A significant
amount of vitamin C can be found in just the peel alone. In general, red apples tend to have more of the antioxidants than green or yellow ones, although any apple variety is a good source of the photochemical quercetin.Fennel-
Fennel is available from fall through spring and adds a hint of fresh sweet licorice flavor to any salad. This aromatic plant is pale green with a celery-like stem and feathery foliage. Its root base can be treated like a vegetable and both the base and stems can be eaten raw in salads. The fragrant, graceful greenery can be used as a garnish or snipped like dill to enhance many recipes. Fennel contains its own unique combination of phytonutrients – including the flavonoids rutin, quercitin, rosmarinic acid, caffeoylquinic acid, anethole and various kaempferol glycosides. In addition to its unusual phytonutrients, fennel bulb is an excellent source of vitamin C that gives it even stronger antioxidant activity.
People who eat at least 5 servings a day of fruits and vegetables have a 40 percent lower risk for certain cancers, compared with people who eat two or less servings. So go ahead, embrace the harvest season with a healthful assortment of bright and nutritious fall favorites by adding any one of these foods to your regular menu today.If you or someone you know has cancer, or you are just looking for more ways to reduce your controllable risks of cancer, we are offering a complimentary Holistic Health and Lifestyle Assessment during the month of October so you can build a strong and healthy body. Click here to schedule.