If you’ve been to a farmer’s market recently, you’ve no doubt noticed the changing scene at the fruit and vegetable stands…. fewer peaches and tomatoes and more cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and other cruciferous vegetables. You’ll also see piles of the all-American favorite fruit, apples as well as plenty of pears, another fall and winter favorite. Not only are these foods nutritious – and delicious – they offer specific health rewards. Here’s a rundown of fall favorites and how they can improve your health:
- Apples – In my blog I’ve reported on a study from the Harvard School of Public Health showing that along with blueberries and grapes, eating apples regularly can lower your risk of Type 2 diabetes. They’re also low in calories so they’re a reliable fruit treat when you’re trying to lose weight. An Brain Warrior healthy snack is half an apple with almond butter (also check out my Amazing Apple Cinnamon Chicken Salad). Apples are also great for heart health. The soluble fiber they contain help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and protect against metabolic syndrome, a combination of medical conditions that increase the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.
- Pears – These delicious, juicy fruits give you fiber, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin K (needed for blood clotting). A study showed that eating pears (and apples) lowered stroke risk by 52 percent and are among the “white foods” (meaning their edible parts are white) that had this effect. According to the American Heart Association the color of the edible portion of fruits and vegetables reflects the presence of beneficial phytochemicals such as carotenoids and flavonoids. In the study, other foods in the white category were bananas, cauliflower, chicory and cucumber. Try my Peaceful Asian Pear Salad for a change of pear pace.
- Broccoli, Brussels sprouts and Cauliflower – It isn’t cheating to combine these three fall faves into one category – they all provide similarly awesome health benefits. Consider what the National Cancer Institute has to say: these cruciferous vegetables contain biologically active compounds that have been found in laboratory and animal studies to deliver dramatic anti-cancer results. Compounds called indoles and isothiocyanates have been shown to inhibit cancer development in several organs in rats and mice, and laboratory studies show that these same compounds help protect cells from DNA damage, inactivate carcinogens, have antiviral and antibiotic and anti-inflammatory effects, induce cancer cell death, and inhibit formation of blood vessels needed to nourish tumors. Whew! While there’s still no concrete evidence demonstrating that eating these veggies can protect humans against cancer, we do know that compounds called sulforaphanes in cruciferous vegetables boost DNA repair. And a study showed that consumption of cruciferous vegetables is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease. If you’ve never been crazy about these veggies, give my Cauliflower Garlic Mashed Potatoes a try. That should change your mind.