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As the leaves turn to warm colors and temperatures drop, the fall harvest season offers a bounty of nutritious fruits and vegetables that can help your body stay healthy and prepare for winter.

Here’s a look at some healthy fall foods, their nutritional, and suggested recipes to incorporates these ingredients into your autumn diet.


1. Cauliflower

Cauliflower belongs to the cruciferous family along with other super foods including broccoli and kale.

In addition to containing vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants, this low-calorie vegetable has glucosinolates that can help fight cancer.

Fleshy white vegetables including cauliflower have also been associated with reduced risk of stroke.

Not sure how to cook cauliflower? Try oven-roasted cauliflower with garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. Oven roasting is healthier than breading and frying, plus the olive oil is rich in antioxidants and monounsaturated fat.


2. Apples

The quintessential autumn fruit, apples are packed with dietary fiber, flavonoids and antioxidants.

Numerous studies show that apples may help reduce risk for developing health conditions like cancer, hypertension, heart disease and diabetes.

Apples make an easy, healthful snack all on their own, but they’re also great in recipes like quinoa salad with hazelnuts, apple and dried cranberries.


3. Sweet potatoes

The Cleveland Clinic reports that fiber-rich sweet potatoes are loaded with potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium and manganese, nutrients that are good for building healthy bones, healing wounds, lowering blood pressure and boosting metabolism.

In fact, sweet potatoes contain 400 percent of your daily required vitamin A, trumping white potatoes in nutritional value.

Leave the skins on for maximum nutritional value and try this recipe for grilled sweet potato fries. Grilling instead of frying is healthier, too.


4. Squash and Pumpkin

Pumpkin and squash are classic fall foods, and both members of the gourd family offer key health benefits.

For pumpkins, these include aiding vision (thanks to a whopping 200 percent of your recommended daily vitamin A) and the potential to lower your cancer risk (thanks to beta-carotene).

Squash contains vitamin B6 (which aids the nervous and immune systems) and potassium (which boosts bone health).

Combine their health benefits by making this pumpkin-acorn squash soup. It is broth based, which is healthier than cream-based soups.


5. Chicory

Chicory reportedly offers health benefits like helping to cleanse the blood and improve liver health.

Chicory root can be dried, roasted and ground to be used as a caffeine-free coffee substitute or boiled and eaten like a vegetable, while the leaves can be used in salads.

For the latter, try this recipe for chicory salad with walnuts and parmesan.


6. Celery Root

Also called celeriac, celery root is thought to possess calming, antiseptic, anti-allergy and other therapeutic properties thanks to nutrients like vitamins C, K and E and carotene.

There are many ways to prepare celery root, among them truffled celery root mash.


7. Cranberries

Cranberries are in season during late fall and boast health benefits such as potentially lowering your risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease through phytonutrients, among other contents.

Cranberry juice has been shown to decrease symptomatic urinary tract infections (UTIs) and protect against stomach ulcers.

Try to steer clear of cranberry cocktail and cranberry dishes that contain a lot of extra sugar to offset the fruit’s tartness. Dried cranberries often have sugar added as well.

Here’s a recipe for low-sugar fresh cranberry salsa with cilantro, lime and jalapeno.


8. Figs

Naturally sweet and soft in texture, figs are an excellent source of soluble fiber, potassium, iron copper and vitamins A, E and K. Fig’s high-fiber content helps reduce hunger and cravings, while its prebiotics can help boost digestive wellness.

A simple way to enjoy figs is baked and served with granola and honey-scented yogurt.


Eating fresh, seasonally appropriate ingredients ensures that you are getting the nutrients you need throughout the year, and can help improve your health and overall well-being.

And all of these items are versatile enough to be prepared in many different forms so you won’t get tired of eating them until the season’s over.

What are your favorite fall foods? Leave a comment below!

Emily Newhook is the community relations manager for MHA@GW, the online MHA degree, and MPH@GW, the online master of public health offered through the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University. Outside of work, she enjoys writing, film studies and powerlifting. Follow her on Twitter @EmilyNewhook.


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