Fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices are always in season, but there’s something about fall flavors that makes everyone hungry. With all the great produce, spice and herb offerings this time of year, it’s great to know the wonderful benefits these foods have for your body, mind and soul.

Pumpkins

Packed with heart healthy magnesium, healthy fats and fibers, the meat of the pumpkin is low in calories and provides your body with essential dietary fibers, calcium, potassium, vitamins B and K, and more than 200% of the recommended daily vitamin A.

Its radiant orange color results from high amounts of beta-carotene, an essential nutrient that helps maintain eye and skin health as well as neurological function. And studies show that the seeds may help decrease prostate gland enlargement and risk for kidney stones and depression. There are lots of great, easy recipes available with ways to prepare them.

Fall spices

Fall spices and herbs can do more than fancy-up your lattes or meals. Ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove and allspice found in a pumpkin spice mixture can work its magic on the taste buds with benefits for the body and mind.

• Cinnamon boasts a lot of flavor with a high antioxidant count (antioxidants help protect the body from damaging waste products) and anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal properties.

• Ginger, rich in health benefits, is often used to soothe upset stomachs and reduce nausea. It is also linked to brain function, possibly protecting against Alzheimer’s Disease. Ginger contains a component called gingerol that can help keep infections at bay.

• Nutmeg has been linked to reducing feelings of pain associated with strains, injuries and even arthritis. It also has impressive fiber content that can help promote healthy digestion.

• Clove, similar to cinnamon, is rich in antioxidants, including vitamin C, which can neutralize free radicals and benefit your health overall. Also, clove contains antimicrobial properties that can help keep bacteria at bay and promote oral health. Additionally, it also helps support healthy blood sugar levels and liver and bone health.

• Allspice, with anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant properties, can also help boost the immune system. Boasting significant copper and iron levels that are essential to red blood cells, it has been shown to boost circulation and even warm the body.

• Herbs such as sage, rosemary, turmeric, cilantro, cumin, thyme, paprika all offer incredible health benefits along with great flavors to favorite fall dishes while enriching lives with great fragrances.

Other tasty options

Apples. Differing in colors, flavors and textures, apples are antioxidant powerhouses known to help disarm or neutralize harmful waste products that would otherwise cause inflammation, atherosclerosis, dementia, and DNA mutations that may lead to cancerous growth.

Mushrooms. Most wild, edible mushrooms only appear in the fall. They offer numerous health benefits: high in protein; low carbohydrate content; and rich in fiber, iron, calcium and other compounds that are believed to help fend off cancer.

Pears. One of the highest fiber fruits, they contain more nutrients per calorie than calorie per nutrient. Fiber consumption provides a sense of satiety, translating to fewer calories consumed to quell hunger. They are also a sensible snack for pre-diabetics and diabetics because fiber decreases absorption of the pear’s carbohydrates, preventing a spike in blood sugar levels.

Sweet potatoes. They’re rich in beta carotene, vitamin B6 (can lower risk for heart attacks), vitamin C (helps your immune system) and iron (assists with red blood cell production).

Citrus. Oranges, tangerines, lemons, limes to grapefruit and more — are a good source of Vitamin C. Citrus also contains antioxidants from the flavonoid group. Respected studies show a diet rich in flavonoids can decrease chances of dying from heart disease by 40%. How? It’s believed that flavonoids improve blood flow through coronary arteries and decrease blood clot formation and “bad” cholesterol levels.

Butternut squash. Rich in nutrients, antioxidants and fiber, while low in calories, butternut squash is also at the head of its class when it comes to Vitamin A. Just 100 grams of butternut squash contains 354% of the recommended daily allowance!

Kale, cabbage and broccoli. Kale is often called a superfood because it contains such high amounts of Vitamins A, C and K as well as calcium. Cabbage and broccoli also contain plenty of nutrition that can promote heart, brain and skin health, and help to fend off cancer (containing sulforaphane, a characteristic of cruciferous veggies that has been shown to block an enzyme that plays a role in the growth of cancer cells).

While each of these offer health benefits, they shouldn’t be used in lieu of medical intervention or to delay treatment. Enjoy, and you’ll not only up the yummy flavors of your fall, but you’ll also get a boost of powerful health benefits!

Dr. Nina Radcliff, of Galloway Township, is a physician anesthesiologist, television medical contributor and textbook author. Email questions for Dr. Nina to editor@pressofac.com with “Dr. Nina” in the subject line.

This article is for general information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions and cannot substitute for the advice from your medical professional.

Dr. Nina Radcliff, of Galloway Township, is a physician anesthesiologist, television medical contributor and textbook author.

Email questions for Dr. Nina to editor@pressofac.com with “Dr. Nina” in the subject line.

This article is for general information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions and cannot substitute for the advice from your medical professional.

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