Your Guide to the 21 Best Fall Fruits and Vegetables With Major Health Benefits
Fall is finally here, and we're excited to indulge in seasonal comfort food as the weather gets cooler and our bodies crave the tastes of the autumn harvest. Instead of enjoying a simple BBQ on the beach or fruit salad, we are now looking forward to cooking an abundance of orange and golden vegetables, hearty soups, as well as sipping fresh apple cider and baking pumpkin-flavored treats.
To make all these fall indulgences happen, first stock up on fresh vegetables and fruits from the farmer's market or farm stand, produce section, or green market, since these autumn crops are in prime season and deliver a host of health benefits that will have your energy on high and your body's immunity humming along. The Beet compiled this list of the healthiest fruits and vegetables to add to your list and eat right now, to make Autumn your best season yet. We highlighted the health benefits of each one, so you can feel even more motivated to put these foods in your basket. Then, check out The Beet's library of healthy fall recipes to enjoy and create new memories that will make this season your absolute favorite.
Here Are the 21 Best Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables With Major Health Benefits
1. Apples: Do eat the skin, which is where most of the healthy compounds are
Apples are known to lower your risk of heart disease, since they contain plenty of soluble fiber that helps lower blood cholesterol levels, according to a recent study. Apples are a good source of vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, and Folate, which helps boost your immune system. One apple has about 95 calories and contains 4 grams of dietary fiber making it the perfect low-calorie on-the-go snack that will fill you up. Visit your local apple orchard because September and October are prime apple picking season.
But which apple is healthiest? According to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, polyphenolic compounds found in apples (in Red Delicious apples) are extremely beneficial to human health but if you don't like the tougher skin, skip those since most of the benefit from flavonoids in the apple is in the skin. The Pinky Lady contains the most flavonoids, which improve blood flow and boost your ability to create nitric oxide —a molecule that relaxes and opens blood vessels for better heart health, circulation, performance, and anti-aging.
2. Winter Squash: This vegetable can help improve your skin and lower risk of disease
Winter squash differs from summer squash since it's harvested and eaten in the mature fruit stage when the seeds and skin are hard. These include butternut, pumpkin, acorn, delicata, and Hubbard. Winter squash is high in vitamins A and C, promoting a healthy immune system, improving your vision, and can help clear up skin--reducing any signs of acne.
Carotenoids are found in most squashes including acorn squash and butternut squash and may "protect against type 2 diabetes, lung cancer, mental decline, and vision disorders," studies have found. The richer the color at the farmstand, the higher likelihood you are choosing a vegetable that's a great source of carotenoids.
3. Beets: This root is loaded with health benefits, including reducing the risk of stroke
Beets are extremely nutrient-dense and low in calories. One beet contains 44 calories, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 1.7 grams of protein, and is loaded with healthy vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, folate, vitamin B6, magnesium, iron, and potassium. Some people say that beets are the "multivitamin" of vegetables. Studies show beets help reduce your blood pressure, lowering your risk of heart diseases and stroke.
4. Broccoli: If there's one vegetable to eat daily, it's this one, but don't overcook it
Broccoli is often maligned for its strong odor while cooking, but in terms of health, the cruciferous vegetable has an outstanding reputation for delivering big benefits. First, broccoli is packed with vitamins, minerals, and is high in fiber, helping you lose weight naturally. Different cooking methods affect the nutritional value, however, so it's best to enjoy this vegetable completely or nearly raw and seasoned with your favorite spices and herbs.
Cooking it too much (boiling or microwaving) can deplete it of sulforaphane, a natural gas that gets emitted when the stalk, head or leaves gets injured –such as when a bug or human bites into it–which acts as a powerful antioxidant when it enters the human body and helps fight toxins and the stress of oxidization (aka aging). Broccoli is full of antioxidants that support your digestive system, prevent stress, and boost eye health--according to a study. Learn more about this powerhouse veggie here.
5. Brussels Sprouts: These vitamin-rich vegetables help fight cancer and heart disease
Brussels sprouts are high in vitamin K, which is extremely important for strong and healthy bones, according to studies. Just half a cup contains 137 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin K which is great for building bones (in conjunction with vitamin D) and healthy blood cells. These veggies are also high in fiber, promoting weight loss and gut-health. Brussels sprouts are high in antioxidants which help lower stress and reduce your risk of chronic diseases. One study supports that the consumption of cruciferous vegetables may result in a decreased cancer risk.
6. Cabbage: A cruciferous vegetable, it's loaded with heart-healthy nutrients.
Cabbage contains 2 grams of dietary fiber and is high in vitamin K, which helps your blood clot in a healthy way (you need this if you get cut or bruised) and works with vitamin D to support strong bone health. The cruciferous vegetable contains a variety of different antioxidants that help reduce inflammation, according to a study. Another study suggests that "the previously observed health benefits of cruciferous vegetable consumption may be partly associated with the anti-inflammatory effects of these vegetables." The autumn season is the perfect time to make cabbage wrapped tacos or flavorful cabbage soup, get creative!
7. Cauliflower: A low-cal choice that's weight-loss friendly and packed with nutrients.
Cauliflower is high in dietary fiber, promoting natural weight loss, and reducing a whole host of diseases including heart disease, cancer, chronic inflammation, type 2 diabetes, and more, and promoting immune function, according to a major study. In one cup of cauliflower, there are 3 grams of fiber, which is 10% of your daily needs. "Higher intakes of dietary fiber are linked to less cardiovascular disease," the study found, "and fiber plays a role in gut health" since it's a prebiotic food that promotes the growth of healthy probiotic bacteria in your intestines, which sets off a healthy chain reaction that does everything from lower your risk of heart disease to boost immunity and help overall mood.
"Higher intakes of fiber are linked to lower body weight as well as less risk of cancer, " the study found. Cauliflower is also high in vitamin K, which supports healthy bones. This tree-shaped vegetable is known for its anti-inflammatory effects as well since it contains high levels of vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant.
8. Cranberries: Eat them as a snack to lose weight, prevent UTI's and other infections
First, cranberries are mostly water and fiber, making them the perfect food to snack on for weight loss. One cup of cranberries is made up of 87 percent of water and contains 4.6 grams of fiber. Cranberries are also full of essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K1, manganese, and copper. Cranberries are known to help prevent UTI's, since they're loaded with A-type proanthocyanidins, antibacterial flavonoids, according to one study. "The proanthocyanidins in cranberry, in particular... have been implicated as important inhibitors" of the main cause of UTI's, specifically a bacteria called "primarily P-fimbriated E. coli," according to another study.
9. Green Beans: These veggies are heart-healthy and can help lower your cholesterol.
If you're looking to drop some pounds this season, add green beans to each meal. Just one cup of raw green beans has 31 calories, zero fat, 4 grams of dietary fiber, and only 3.6 grams of naturally occurring sugar (which is not the same as added sugar). They also contain no cholesterol. Green beans are high in vitamins K, E, and B6, and minerals such as calcium, iron, and zinc which is extremely important for bone health and immunity.
10. Kale: Yes, "kale is king" since it's the most nutrient-dense food on the planet
One single cup of raw kale contains 500 mcg of vitamin K (which is nearly 7 times your daily recommended amount) as well as plenty of vitamin A (twice your daily amount), vitamin C (more than your daily recommended amount). It also has manganese and vitamin B6. Kale is loaded with powerhouse antioxidants, including flavonoids that help to lower blood pressure, work as anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, ant-depressant, and anti-cancer agents, according to one study.
Kale is as powerful as medicine: Men who drank kale juice every day for 12 weeks increased their HDL-cholesterol or "good cholesterol" by 27 percent and lowered LDL-cholesterol or "bad cholesterol" by 10 percent, another study showed.
Kale also helps boost your immune system, since the green vegetable is high in vitamin C. Did you know that one cup of kale has more vitamin C than a whole orange? Kale is one of the best sources of vitamin C you can add to your plate.
11. Parsnips: This root vegetable contains polyacetylenes, known to fight cancer
One cup of parsnips contains 6.5 grams of fiber and 1.5 grams of natural plant-based protein. They're rich in antioxidants that help fight disease and rally the immune system against infection. Parsnips also contain polyacetylenes, compounds that may have appear to work against cancer according to one study. Parsnips are also loaded with vitamin C and provide about 25 percent of your daily needs in just one serving. Add this hearty vegetable to your salads, soups, and side dishes with a little lemon and herbs.
12. Pears: The bell-shaped fruit helps reduce inflammation and the risk of disease.
Despite their sweet taste, pears are low in calories and high in dietary fiber, making them a natural weight-loss-friendly fruit. One medium-sized pear contains 6 grams of fiber and 12percent of your daily recommended amount of vitamin C. Pears are also a good source of flavonoids that help to reduce inflammation and lower your risk of diseases, according to one study. Green-skinned pears contain two plant-compounds, lutein and zeaxanthin, which are help sharpen your vision, especially as you get older.
13. Peas: Small in size, they're big on fiber and protein and may aid in weight loss
Peas are an easy vegetable to add to most dishes like veggie burgers, kinds of pasta, salads, tacos, and more. In just 1/2 cup of peas, you'll get 4 grams of plant-based protein and dietary fiber., which helps fill you up and promotes weight loss. Peas have four times the amount of protein as carrots. So if you're looking to boost your plant-based protein game, peas are an easy add on. Buy them fresh or frozen to eat all fall and winter for your healthiest results.
14. Potatoes: This root vegetable is loaded with nutrients and keeps you feeling full
Sweet potatoes get all the respect. But even regular potatoes are full of nutrients. Yes, they contain carbs cut since they also have high fiber and nutrients, potatoes can actually help you lose weight. In a study that measured the satiety level of different foods, boiled potatoes ranked number one, which means they can fill you up and leave you satisfied longer. Some people swear by potatoes as a weight-loss food, so long as you leave off the oil, like Chef AJ who lost 100 pounds eating a plant-based diet rich in potatoes. In addition, potatoes are a good source of vitamins and minerals and contain almost zero fat. Potatoes are made up of 77 percent water and have high levels of potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and folate, which are essential nutrients that boost your immune system and your energy levels.
15. Pumpkin: This crowd-pleaser is actually a fruit--and low in calories, high in fiber
Most people think of pumpkin as a vegetable, but it's actually an autumn-crop fruit. One cooked pumpkin, about 245 grams, contains 245% of the reference daily intake of vitamin A, boosting your immune system, and helping to perfect your vision. Pumpkins are weight-loss-friendly food since they're low in calories, high in fiber, and made up of about 94% water. When you carve your pumpkin into a jack o lantern, use the 'pumpkin meat' and create healthy plant-based recipes with this delicious and seasonal fruit.
16. Radishes: These root vegetables are the perfect weight-loss snack and add density
Radishes are fall diet heroes for when you are staring at a table of pre-game snacks. Instead of the chips reach for these: One-half cup serving of radishes contains 12 calories and zero fat, making them the perfect crunchy snack to eat when you want something healthier and still satisfying. If you want to clean up you're diet and incorporate low-calorie snack foods, radishes are perfect.
17. Raspberries: These sweet berries can help boost your immune system
One cup of raspberries contains 8 grams of fiber and 1.5 grams of plant-based protein but only 64 calories, making them a great addition to any dessert or smoothie recipe. They provide more than half of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C which helps boost immunity and their deep pigment means they contain phytochemicals that are helpful to your overall health since these dark pigments offer antioxidants to fight the stress of oxidization on a cellular level (you'll see clearer skin, more energy). One study explains that raspberries can help reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
18. Rutabagas: This root is so high in vitamin C it can promote younger-looking skin
Health Benefits: One rutabaga contains 9 grams of dietary fiber and 4 grams of plant-based protein. They're also loaded with essential vitamins like Vitamin C (nearly twice your daily recommended amount in one serving), potassium (one third what you need in a day), magnesium, calcium, and vitamin E. Rutabaga is so high in vitamin C that this infusion of C will not only help boost your immune system but also prevent the signs of premature aging on your skin, according to a study.
19. Swiss Chard: This dark leafy green is among the most nutritious in the world.
Swiss chard is a leafy green that's high in fiber and extremely low in calories, which is what makes it a perfect base for your salads or taco wraps since it's one of the easiest ways to add density to a meal and feel full. The veggie is extremely high in vitamin K (delivering 7 times your daily recommended amount) which helps regulate your blood calcium levels to promote bone health. Swiss chard is also high in vitamins A, C, and E, and helps boost immunity, clear skin, and improve vision. Swiss chard is high in antioxidants such as kaempferol, which fights inflammation and may have anti-cancer effects, according to a study.
20. Turnips: This root vegetable promotes bone health and boosts your immune system.
Turnips are full of healthy vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins K and C, promoting a healthy immune system and bone health. Turnips are also rich in glucosinolates, a bioactive plant compound high in antioxidants that appear to have ant-cancer effects, according to a study. Turnips are also used "as a traditional medicine for the treatment of headaches, chest complaints, rheumatisms, oedemas, gonorrhea, syphilis, and rabies," another study reports.
21. Bananas: Yes, bananas are healthy, and they may even fight depression
Bananas are among the most popular fruit in the world, for all the right reasons. They contain essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin B6, extremely important for plant-based or vegan eaters because while it's found in eggs and dairy (which plant-based people don't eat) it helps boost mood and even fights depression. B6 helps create neurotransmitters that regulate emotions, including serotonin. A low level of vitamin B6 might contribute to depression one study found since there was a correlation between low B6 levels and depression.
Bananas are also famously high in potassium (422 grams per banana), which helps to regulate fluid balance, reduce blood pressure, and protect against heart diseases or stroke according to a study.
If you want to add more vegetables to your plate, The Beet created a 14-day easy recipe guide to help you eat one more vegetable a day for the next two weeks. Each day you'll get three easy and delicious plant-based recipes to help you "just add plants" to your diet to eat more fiber and antioxidants, boost your immune system, and have more energy. By filling up on fiber you're more likely to feel fuller longer and eat less overall, which will regulate blood sugar and may even help you lose weight as you get healthier every day. Click here to sign up.