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Autumn is my favorite season. I love it for many reasons but mostly because we can enjoy delicious deep green, dark yellow and orange vegetables and fruit.
This colorful food is rich in disease-fighting phytochemicals and we need to include all seasonal fruit and veggies to keep our body and mind strong and healthy.
If you make them a regular part of your diet, you will continue to reap the nutritional benefits throughout the year, and we know who winter can be challenging for our health and mood.
Prepare yourself to reap the benefits of fall food.
So, here are my top picks for the most delicious and healthy season.
Parsnips are related to carrots and parsley, often used as a substitute for carrots in dishes, and have been used as a sweetening agent before sugar. People used it as herbal medicine and often as an aphrodisiac as well.
This root vegetable is popular in the European cuisine for its sweet and delicate flavor, where it is eaten raw or boiled. But equally delicious when they are steamed, microwaved, boiled, roasted or sautéed. Prepare them as you wish.
They do not contain the same amount of vitamin E as carrots, but parsnips are rich in vitamin C, vitamins B and K, and are a great source of fiber. The significant health benefits of parsnips come from minerals. They contain high levels of potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, zinc, and manganese.
Parsnips can help prevent certain health problems and depression, strengthen the immune system, lower blood pressure and protect the heart.
Good for the immune system
Parsnips are packed with antioxidant vitamins and thus can effectively protect the body from unwanted toxic products, stimulating the production of white blood cells that attack foreign microbes in our body.
Vitamin C and E eliminate and neutralize free radicals that can cause chronic diseases.
Protect the heart
Potassium acts as a vasodilator and reduces blood pressure. Together with folate that is present in parsnips, the vegetables can reduce homocysteine levels in the blood that are associated with a higher risk of heart disease.
Decrease the risk of developing diabetes
Parsnips are composed of soluble fiber, the fiber that is associated with reducing cholesterol levels and lowering the chance of developing diabetes.
Good for the healthy digestion
The rich fiber content in parsnips can facilitate the healthy movement of food through the digestive tract and aid with constipation. This way the digestive organs are able to maintain optimum health, preventing other gastrointestinal disorders.
Aid in weight loss
High levels of soluble fiber in parsnips prevent the release of ghrelin, a “hunger” hormone. Thus if you include parsnips in your daily nutrition plan, there’s a small chance you will snack between meals.
How to choose parsnips?
For the best quality, look small to medium-sized parsnips. Use it in recipes with carrots, potatoes or sweet potatoes.
Their color varies from purple or red to pale yellow or white, which depends on the variety, climate, and soil type.
The red variety is drier and has a harder flesh, while the white and yellow varieties have juicier flesh. Due to the presence of beta-carotene, that gives them their color, the reddish or orange sweet potatoes will have the stronger the aroma.
What are the health benefits of sweet potatoes?
Sweet potatoes are rich in fiber and contain a higher amount than that of common potatoes. In combination with magnesium, sweet potatoes are excellent for maintaining healthy digestion. You can easily digest sweet potatoes because they contain starch that is soothing for the sweet potatoes, also known as yams, are not related to the potato despite the name, they are storage roots.stomach and intestines.
However, the starch they contain are complex, and apart from the fact that you will have more energy, they are also a good food to include in daily nutrition if you are looking to gain weight.
Boost Immune System
Besides being rich in beta-carotene, powerful antioxidant, sweet potatoes contain a rich amount of vitamin C and B complex vitamins and minerals iron and phosphorus.
Sweet potatoes contain 30 milligrams (50,000 IU) of beta-carotene in a serving, which is four times the recommended daily allowance per serving. One serving provides 50% of the RDA of Vitamin C. Therefore, sweet potatoes are an excellent immune system boosters that can defend the body from different conditions.
Treat Inflammation, relieve asthma and reduce arthritis pain
Due to vitamins and minerals they contain, sweet potatoes have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. In the first place there’s beta-carotene, and then vitamin C, and the mighty mineral magnesium.
Whether we talk about internal and external inflammation, the combination of these essential nutrients can effectively prevent and treat inflammation.
Sweet potatoes are an effective cure for congestion of the nose, bronchi, and lungs, thus providing relief from asthma.
If you have rheumatoid arthritis, sweet potatoes are an excellent addition to your diet given they are one of the best dietary sources of beta-carotene, especially the pink, orange, and yellow varieties. The vitamin C and cooper in sweet potatoes can also help, and they contain unique root proteins that may have significant antioxidant properties.
Sweet potatoes are an ideal choice for people with diabetes as they are low glycaemic food. The carbohydrate is released slowly, thus help maintain steady blood sugar levels by helping the proper secretion and function of insulin.
They have been shown to reduce A1C levels, which is a measurement of blood sugar, by up to .5%. Moreover, the anthocyanins and other powerful antioxidants help to prevent chronic diseases like coronary heart disease and cancer, for which diabetic patients are at higher risk. They can replace rice or carbohydrate intake as a healthier option.
Apples are cheap and readily available in most countries and almost every season. They come in an array of colors depending on the variety and their taste and texture vary too. Out of around 2,000 varieties, apples can be juicy and sweet to tangy.
You are probably familiar with the old saying, ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’, but is this true? Is there a link between eating apples and good health?
Apples, one of the most cultivated and consumed fruit worldwide, are rich in important antioxidants, dietary fiber, and flavonoids. Moreover, apples contain some of the most potent antioxidants, flavonoids, which help decrease the risk of heart disease and heart attacks.
From essential nutrients, apples contain vitamins A and C, which support the immune system, vitamin K, which is important for blood clotting, and vitamin B7 that helps to break down fat. One more important compound found in apples is iodine that is involved in healthy thyroid function.
Most people eat apples to maintain a healthy digestive system even though they do not know why. It’s because of the dietary fiber pectin, a natural fiber that is found in most plants. The research published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that eating apples can decrease cholesterol compared to apple juice.
Another study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics showed that even dried apples can have benefits. Consuming around 75 grams of dried apple, which is approximately two apples, can help to reduce cholesterol.
Remember – the juicing process removes the fiber and releases the sugar that is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream.
Quercetin in apples can also help with lowering the risk of chronic diseases. Research published in the American Journal for Clinical Nutrition found that people who eat apples have higher quercetin levels and that this protective compound can decrease the risk of developing heart diseases.
I have already dedicated the time to research the benefits of apples, so you can find out more about other protective characteristics of this fruit in the article 10 amazing health benefits of apples.
How to buy apples?
It would be good to buy organic apples as they may be higher in antioxidants according to research. Their shelf life lasts for several weeks on average thus store them away in a dark and cool place. When you keep apples in the fridge they will be fresher for longer.
Pears are packed with essential nutrients our body needs as they contain dietary fiber, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins all necessary for optimum health.
- 100 g fruit provides 3.1 g or 8% of fiber per 100 g; A medium pear is providing four grams of fiber, an equivalent to one and a half cups of brown rice
- A single serving provides 18% of the daily requirement for fiber intake
- Total measured antioxidant strength (ORAC value) in pears is 2941 µmol TE/100 g
- 58 calories per 100g and low in calorie but high fiber diet may help reduce the body weight, and blood LDL cholesterol levels
- Due to dietary fiber, regular eating of pears fruit can offer protection against colon cancer
- Fresh pears provide about 7% of RDA per 100 g of the vitamin C
- Pears are a good source of copper, iron, potassium, manganese, and magnesium
- The fruit is rich in B-complex vitamins such as folates, riboflavin, and pyridoxine
- They are also a modest source of antioxidant flavonoid phytonutrients
Good for digestion
As most of the fiber in pears is a non-soluble polysaccharide (NSP) pears function as a good laxative so it is easier for the food to pass through the intestines. The fiber also helps to regulate bowel movements and reduce the chances of constipation, and diarrhea.
Boost Immunity and reduce inflammation
Antioxidants and vitamin C are beneficial for the immune system, and pears are rich in these protective nutrients. By boosting the immune system, pears help to eliminate and prevent common health problems such as cold and flu.
Pears have anti-inflammatory benefits due to rich antioxidant content. Antioxidants in pears eliminate the free radicals from the body that can cause a number of serious health problems and conditions. They can reduce the pain associated with inflammation and reduce the symptoms of arthritis, rheumatic conditions and gout.
Improve Heart Health
Potassium can have a significant impact on heart health because it lowers blood pressure and increases blood flow to all parts of the body. The result is the decrease in the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, such as strokes and heart attacks. This mineral also works as a fluid regulator in the body and keeping the body hydrated, potassium ensures the balance of essential fluids in the organs.
Improve circulation and bone health and strengthens muscles
If you are suffering from mineral deficiency or muscle weakness, you should include pears in your diet. Pears have a high content of copper and iron. On one hand, copper facilitates the uptake of minerals into the system, thus increasing the levels of iron. On the other hand, iron prevents anemia, fatigue, cognitive malfunction, and muscle weakness.
Magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, calcium, and copper are also essential for the health of bones and they are all present in pears. These minerals help to reduce bone mineral loss and the general weakness of the body.
Improves and protects the skin
Pears are rich in vitamin A and components lutein and zeaxanthin that act as antioxidants. These compounds participate in different enzymatic reactions in the body and are important for the functioning of organs. Due to this role, pears can reduce the effects of skin aging such as wrinkles and age spots and various conditions associated with skin aging.
Pumpkins are more than Halloween decorations. These are low-calorie food packed with essential nutrients. Just 1 cup of cooked mashed pumpkins contains 49 calories and a great number of vitamins and minerals.
A 1-oz serving, which is 28 grams, contains:
- Fiber – 1.7 grams
- Vitamin K – 18% of the RDI
- Phosphorous – 33% of the RDI
- Manganese – 42% of the RDI
- Magnesium – 37% of the RDI
- Carbs – 5 grams
- Protein – 7 grams
- Fat – 13 grams, 6 of which are omega-6s
- Iron – 23% of the RDI
- Zinc – 14% of the RDI
- Copper – 19% of the RDI
Pumpkins also contain powerful antioxidants and a decent amount of vitamin B, potassium and folate.
The good thing is that both canned and fresh pumpkins are healthy options. Seeds are rich in many nutrients as well, only second to peanuts in protein content. They are a good source of zinc and healthy unsaturated fats, where 1 oz. contains 5 grams of fat, with 4 grams being unsaturated.
They contain alpha-linolenic acid, which is a type of omega-3 fatty acid that can help to prevent cardiovascular disease and decrease the risk of high cholesterol. The fiber in seeds has an important role in digestive health and it may help to lower the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
The seeds are one of the best natural sources of magnesium, necessary for more than 600 chemical reactions in the body. This is important to know because in the US around 79% of adults have a magnesium intake below the recommended daily amount. Magnesium is important for controlling blood pressure, healthy bones, reducing the risk of heart disease, and regulating blood sugar levels.
The flesh gets its orange color from beta-carotene that may help reduce cell damage in the body, improving the immune system. In the body, beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A that is important nutrient for eye health. Read the complete guide to pumpkin health benefits.
Pumpkin Seed Oil is an alternative if for any reason you do not like the flavor of pumpkins. One study that is published in the journal Climacteric found that postmenopausal women who took 2 grams of pumpkin seed oil every day for 12 weeks had reduced diastolic blood pressure.
If you still doubt that pumpkins have many health benefits, read about 13 reasons why you should include pumpkins in the daily diet.
Chestnuts are a popular snack in Mediterranean countries, China, Japan and Korea. Some countries find chestnuts superior to other nuts, and for good reasons.
Chestnuts contain 3 grams of fiber per 100 gram, which is higher than walnuts (2.1 g per 100 g), pecans (2.3 g per 100 g), and pistachios (1.9 g per 100 g). Due to the fiber content, they are a low glycemic index food meaning the nuts that raise the blood sugar slowly.
These nuts are high in vitamin C, and minerals potassium, copper, and magnesium. Chestnuts also contain amino acids and antioxidants but they provide 195 calories per 100 g serving, mostly due to their high carbohydrate content.
Containing only 12 percent of fat content is making chestnuts a low-fat nut.
Dietary fiber plays an important role in the regulation, prevention, and management of diabetes.
As chestnuts are food high in dietary fiber and are considered a low glycemic food, they are causing blood sugar to rise more slowly, preventing the drops in blood sugar.
Improve digestive system
As one of the nuts that are highest in dietary fiber, chestnuts help to stimulate peristaltic motion in the intestines. The result is the regulation of the bowel movements and prevention of inflammation and associated discomfort.
Increase bone mineral density
Copper and magnesium in chestnuts are extremely important for bone health. Cooper is a mineral significant for the process of iron absorption, which is crucial for bone growth and development. Magnesium, on the other hand, is important for increasing the bone mineral density, preventing a wide variety of health problems that are related to the lack of minerals in bones. Chestnuts can, therefore, prevent the onset of age-related disorders, including osteoporosis.
Enhance brain function
Chestnuts are rich in the B vitamins – folate, riboflavin, thiamine, which are important for proper neurological development. Then, there’s potassium that increases blood flow to the brain, promoting good functioning of the nervous system. All in all, these nutrients increase concentration, retention, and memory.
Boost the immune system
Antioxidants in chestnuts are a good boost to the immune system. Chestnuts have a high concentration of vitamin C that stimulates the production of white blood cells. The vitamin acts as an antioxidant, protecting the body from the free radicals and neutralizing them, and decreasing the risk of chronic illnesses that are caused by the release of free radicals.
Control blood pressure and improve heart health
The important mineral that helps to lower blood pressure is potassium, and chestnuts are a great source of this mineral.
Potassium controls water movement within the body, functioning as a vasodilator. The result is the increase of blood flow and the release of the tension on constricted blood vessels and arteries. Reduction in blood pressure can significantly boost cardiovascular health and decrease the risk of heart attacks.
Chestnuts are also packed with good fats that help to balance cholesterol and reduce inflammation. This lowers the risk of blood clots buildups in the body and lowers the risk of stroke, heart attack, and coronary heart diseases.
Word of Caution: Some people suffer from tree nut allergies thus be cautious when adding chestnuts to your diet. Researchers identified one allergenic protein in chestnut that showed a similar structure to that of an oak tree allergen in the study that was published in 2005 in the Journal of Korean Medicine. Speak with your doctor if you have any type of allergy.
How to include chestnuts in your diet?
Chestnuts are a delicious snack, either roasted or cooked. You can eat them as they are, but you can also add chestnuts into bread, soup, pasta or risotto.
Figs are the fruit of the ficus tree and have a unique, sweet taste and soft and chewy texture.
Both fresh and dried figs are delicious, and the good thing is that we get to enjoy a nutritious dried fruit all year round. Before the days of refined sugars, figs were used as a sweetener.
Today there are many different varieties that vary in color and texture but all equally delicious.
Figs are often-overlooked although they are a tasty and nutritious addition to a diet. They are high in fiber, containing 5 grams per 1½-ounce serving, which is more than any other dried fruit. Besides, figs are a good source of calcium and other minerals such as copper, iron, magnesium and potassium. In fact, figs and milk do provide equal amounts of calcium.
Figs also have good amount of vitamin A, E and K. You should remember that they are high in natural sugars.
A serving of 100 grams of dried figs contain:
- 249 calories
- 3.3g protein
- 0.9g fat
- 69g carbohydrate
- 5.6g fiber
A serving of 100 grams of fresh figs contain:
- 80 calories
- 1.3g protein
- 0.3g fat
- 20.3g carbohydrate
- 2.2g fiber
Good for the digestive system
Figs act as a natural laxative because of the high fiber content and such high concentration helps to promote healthy bowel function, preventing constipation. Fiber also helps to eliminate diarrhea and unhealthy bowel movements. Figs contain pectin, a soluble fiber that moving through the digestive system moves clumps of cholesterol, eliminating it from the body.
Promote healthy weight
Although figs are high in natural sugars, the fiber in figs can help to reduce weight. They are usually commonly recommended to be included in a diet especially for obese people.
The high fiber food provides feelings of fullness and reduces hunger. Prebiotics in figs helps to support the good bacteria in the gut and improve digestive wellness.
However, figs can contribute to weight gain especially in combination with milk. Moreover, 100 grams of fresh figs contain around 250 calories. So, a few figs can give you a daily dose of vitamins and minerals, thus do not overdo it.
Prevent heart diseases
Dried figs have beneficial fatty acids, phenol, omega-3, and omega-6 that can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Moreover, the fig leaves possess an inhibitory effect on triglycerides, another major factor behind various heart diseases, contributing to decreasing the overall number of them in the body. They are great for the people who consume too much sodium (salt), usually through processed foods. The imbalance between sodium and potassium can contribute to high blood pressure (hypertension). As figs are high in potassium they can help lower blood pressure.
As figs are rich in potassium, the mineral that helps to regulate the amount of sugar absorbed by the body after meals, they can help to ensure less frequent blood spikes and falls. The leaves reduce the amount of insulin needed by people with diabetics, and The American Diabetes Association recommends treats figs as food that helps to promote functional control of diabetes.
Being rich in calcium, one of the most important minerals for strengthening bones, and thus for reducing the risk of osteoporosis, figs are great addition to a diet for those who are experiencing any problems with bones. Moreover, figs are also rich in phosphorus that helps with the bone formation and growth in case there’s degradation to bones.
Treat bronchitis and throat pain
The natural chemicals in fig leaves make it an ideal component for a tea base. Figs, that is fig leaf tea, are a popular remedy for various respiratory conditions. The tea has been used to treat bronchitis and to prevent the symptoms of asthma. Fig leaf tea can also help to heal sore throats and is used to treat fever and relieve pain on the vocal cords.
Word of Caution: Figs contain high levels of oxalates and thus have a laxative effect and cause diarrhea. Enjoy figs in moderation. There are also people who are allergic to certain chemical components in figs, thus, speak to your doctor before you include them in your diet.
How to eat figs?
Figs can be consumed either peeled or unpeeled. You can find fresh figs between summer and autumn, depending on the variety. Dried figs will keep for much longer and can be kept in a cool, dark place.
Date palm is from the palm family, cultivated for the sweet fruit, dates. They are especially rich in vitamins B6, A, and K and many essential minerals.
- Protein – 1.81g
- Total Fat – 0.15 g
- Dietary Fiber – 6.7 g
- Folates – 15 µg
- Niacin – 1.610 mg
- Pantothenic acid – 0.805 mg
- Riboflavin – 0.060 mg
- Thiamin – 0.050 mg
- Vitamin K – 2.7 µg
- Sodium – 1 mg
- Potassium – 696 mg
- Calcium – 64 mg
- Copper – 0.362 mg
- Iron – 0.90 mg
- Magnesium – 54 mg
- Manganese – 0.296 mg
- Phosphorus – 62 mg
- Zinc – 0.44 mg
- Beta – carotene – 89 µg
- Carbohydrates – 74.97 g
Dates are good for:
- Digestive health
- Cardiovascular health
- Nervous system
- Immune system
- Sexual dysfunctions
Improve digestive system
If you are experiencing problems with the digestive system, and suffer from constipation, it is usually the sign that you need to include more fiber in your diet. Dates are laxative food and they are recommended to people who are suffering from constipation.
The high levels of soluble fiber in dates promote healthy bowel movements and relieve symptoms of constipation. If you eat dates, you get 20-35 grams of dietary fiber per day. But dates have more benefits for the digestive organs, if you are eating dates on a regular basis, you will also increase the growth of good bacteria in the stomach and thus promote effective digestion.
Promote heart health
As a rich source of potassium, dates can reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol, a major contributing factor of heart diseases. A study which is published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that a variety called Medjool is high in antioxidative properties in vitro. The people who consumed 100 grams of dates on a daily basis for four weeks reduced blood triglyceride levels by 8 percent.
Figs are rich in calcium and phosphorus, two minerals that work together to fight off painful bone diseases. Bones and teeth contain about 85 percent of the body’s phosphorus, but phosphorus is also needed for the growth and repair of all tissues in the body, and necessary for the production of DNA and RNA. Calcium is essential for the development of strong bones, thus for the prevention of osteoporosis.
Eating dates regularly is a way to get the daily intake of calcium and phosphorus. Moreover, dates contain selenium, manganese, copper, and magnesium, all minerals that additionally help the development of healthy bones.
Maintain a healthy nervous system
The vitamins in dates are an ideal boost to nervous system functionality. First, there’s potassium, one of the most important ingredients that promote a healthy nervous system, improving alertness and brain activity.
Calcium has an important role in regulating nerve cells within the brain and throughout the body. It’s a mineral that helps the cells to initiate an action potential of nerve cells. Our nervous system needs specific components to function properly, in fact, the accelerator function of the sympathetic nervous system is controlled by phosphorus and eating food rich in this mineral can boost the brain functions.
Apart from the rich amount of essential minerals and vitamins, dates are extremely high in natural sugars – glucose, fructose, and sucrose and thus great natural energy boosters. When you eat dates as snacks you will experience an immediate burst of energy.
Enhance the immune system
High mineral content and vitamins B, A and K are great for maintaining the optimum immune system. The combination of these nutrients is beneficial for treating many health conditions. Iron is important mineral for empowering the overall health in people who are suffering from anemia or allergies. Dates contain organic sulfur that can help to reduce allergic reactions and especially seasonal allergies.
Treat sexual problems
In combination with honey and cardamon, dates can be beneficial for increasing sexual endurance and reduce sterility. They have been used as a remedy for sexual dysfunctions for centuries, but in 2006, researchers found that the high levels of estradiol and flavonoid components in dates increase sperm count. They have been studying the effects of date palms and their oil on sexual functioning.
Promote weight gain
If you are thin and slim and wish to increase your weight, or if you have been experiencing weakness, dates should be in your diet. One kilogram of dates contains around 3,000 calories. Dates are extremely high in natural sugars and contain proteins and many essential vitamins. To maintain a healthy weight, eat dates in moderation.
There are many varieties of dates, Medjool being the most popular ones. They are large dates from Morocco with a specific, toffee-like taste and according to many, the most delicious. Barhi dates are a yellow variety that is native to Iraq and Deglet Noor dates are varieties from Tunisia and Algeria usually used in cooking due to their mild taste and lack of sweetness, Dayri dates are lengthy and black and Halawy dates are small and sweet.
Most people know very little about this valuable fruit. The name appeared for the first time in the ancient Greek manuscript, around 600 BC, where quince fruit was mentioned as one of the treats for the wedding ceremony given they saw quince as the symbol of fertility.
The quince fruit belongs to the rose family and has a similar shape to apples and pears. Their flavor is specific and the smell is strong, especially when ripe.
Quince is packed with nutrients. It contains fiber and folate acid, a good combination of vitamins:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B3
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin C
The ripe fruit has 15 mg or 25% of RDA from vitamin C in 100 grams. Quince is even richer in minerals content:
Promote heart health
Quince fruit is rich in potassium, a mineral essential for maintaining blood pressure, causing the vessels and arteries to relax, and thus can help to improve the cardiovascular system health. Eating quinces can decrease the risk of developing atherosclerosis, and lower your risk for coronary heart diseases.
Good for the immune system
Zinc and ferrum compound that are present in the quince can help increase the production of red blood cells and thus decrease the risk of developing anemia and common infections. The vitamin C is essential nutrient for a balanced immune system, and given quince fruit is rich in its content, the fruit can help to protect the body from the inflammation and bacteria or viruses infection.
Promote weight loss
Quince is a fruit low in calories and fat, but packed with essential nutrients. With only 52 calories per fruit, and with 1.7 grams of dietary fiber per fruit, quince is recommended for weight loss.
Good for hair health
Iron, copper, and zinc are minerals that are directly involved in the production of red blood cells. When there’s an optimum amount of red blood cells, the circulation increases and causes increased blood flow to the skin and scalp, increasing hair follicle health and stimulating hair growth.
How to consume quince?
Quince is a seasonal fruit, usually available from October to January. If you like their peculiar flavor you can eat them raw, but they are usually consumed through marmalade, jelly or jam. However, if you can avoid processed food, unless you have your own recipe for jam or marmalade, include quince in soups or salads.
Bell peppers (Capsicum annuum), also called sweet peppers, capsicums or paprika, are from the family related to chili peppers, tomatoes, and breadfruit, native to Central and South America. They come in various colors, red, orange and yellow, and green when not ripe.
Bell peppers are mostly water, 92%, and the rest is carbohydrates and certain amounts of protein and fat. The carbs are mostly sugars – glucose and fructose. They are vegetables low in calories and rich in vitamin C and other different antioxidants.
100 grams of a red bell pepper has:
- Calories – 31
- Water – 92 %
- Proteins – 1 g
- Carbs – 6 g
- Sugar – 4.2 g
- Fiber – 2.1 g
- Fat – 0.3 g
- Omega-3 – 0.03 g
- Omega-6 – 0.05 g
The combination of these essential nutrients makes bell peppers a great addition to a healthy diet.
- One cup of bell peppers will give you more than the daily quota of vitamins A and C
- One medium-sized red bell pepper contains 169% of the RDA for vitamin C
- The highest amount of vitamin C is in the red variety
- Red bell peppers contain phytochemicals and beta-carotene
- The sulfur content in bell peppers play a protective role in different types of cancers
- Bell peppers are a good source of vitamin E
- Bell peppers contain vitamin B6 that is essential for the nervous system
- Lutein in bell peppers protect the eyes from macular degeneration
- Capsanthin is abundant in red bell peppers; it is a powerful antioxidant that may help protect against cancer
- Quercetin in bell peppers may be beneficial for the prevention of chronic diseases, heart diseases, and cancer
The high presence of vitamin A and V in bell peppers is able to fight both serious and short-term illnesses. People who eat food high in vitamin C are less likely to catch a common cold or flu, as this powerful antioxidant is a nutrient that enhances the weak immune system. Just remember that 1 cup of sliced red bell peppers will give you 157% of the daily vitamin C content.
Supports healthy eyes
Bell peppers contain high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin, over half a milligram, which makes them one of the best natural sources of these powerful antioxidants. Lutein is widely used in the treatment for macular degeneration. Researchers at Harvard found that 6 milligrams of supplemented lutein a day can help to reduce the chance of developing macular degeneration by 43 percent.
Other eye-related illnesses that these antioxidants can help to prevent and treat are eye fatigue and acute vision.
Another research showed that carotenoids found in bell peppers can ward off eye disease because they absorb damaging blue light as it enters the eye.
Promote healthy weight
With only 37 calories per serving, bell peppers can give the body needed nutrients with minimal calories. Bell peppers are also very low in fat and contain about 1 gram of fat that makes them a perfect snack option.
Reduces the risk of cancer and heart diseases
Eating food high in carotenoids has been shown to help to reduce the risk of cancer, decreasing the activity of free radicals in the body. Bell peppers contain over 30 different types of carotenoids: alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein, cryptoxanthin, lycopene, and zeaxanthin.
Bell peppers also contain sulfur that helps to prevent cancer. Compounds with anti-inflammatory properties lower inflammation in arteries, which means that bell peppers can help to prevent heart diseases. Additionally, capsaicin, a nutrient that lowers the levels of bad cholesterol in the system, is also present in bell peppers.
Maintain good mental health
Bell peppers are considered one of the brain food due to the high presence of vitamin B6. This vitamin is responsible for increasing the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine, the “happy hormones.” When there are high levels of these hormones, we are having improved mood, more energy and more concentration.
Vitamin B6 is also associated with improved cognition, and lack of it can even increase the risk of Alzheimer’s and/or dementia.
Promote skin health
Bell peppers are great for the skin because they contain vitamin C, which is good for your immune system, and carotenoids that improve the health of your skin and promote collagen production. They also contain a small amount of vitamin E that helps to keep skin youthful.
A myriad of nutrients is coming from the leafy vegetable: calcium, potassium, vitamin K, C, and E, sulphur, and magnesium. The cabbage belongs to the Brassica family that also include cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale, and broccoli. There are many varieties of cabbage, red and green are the most common varieties that are cultivated all around the world.
Cabbage is used in treatments for constipation, headaches, skin disorders, rheumatism, arthritis, eye disorders, and heart diseases.
- Fresh, green leafy cabbage is low in fat and calories; 100 grams of leaves have 25 calories
- Cabbage is rich in phytochemicals thiocyanates, indole-3-carbinol, lutein, zeaxanthin, sulforaphane, and isothiocyanates., which are all potent antioxidants that help to protect against different types of cancers and reduce bad cholesterol levels
- Fresh cabbage provides 36.6 mg or about 61% of RDA per 100 g of vitamin C
- Cabbage is rich in pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and thiamin (vitamin B1)
- The vegetable contains a good amount of potassium, manganese, iron, and magnesium.
- Cabbage is a great source of vitamin-K and provides about 63% of RDA levels
A 100 grams of fresh cabbage contain:
- Protein – 1.3 g
- Total Fat – 0.1 g
- Carbohydrates – 5.8 g
- Dietary Fiber – 2.50 mg
- Vitamin A – 98 IU
- Vitamin C – 36.6 mg
- Vitamin K – 76 µg
- Folates – 53 µg
- Niacin – 0.234 mg
- Pantothenic acid – 0.212 mg
- Pyridoxine – 0.124 mg
- Riboflavin – 0.040 mg
- Thiamin – 0.061 mg
- Sodium – 18 mg
- Potassium – 170 mg
- Calcium – 40 mg
- Iron – 0.47 mg
- Magnesium – 12 mg
- Manganese – 0.160 mg
- Phosphorus – 26 mg
- Zinc – 0.18 mg
- Carotene-α – 33 µg
- Carotene-ß – 42 µg
- Lutein-zeaxanthin – 30 µg
Improves eye health
Promote weight loss
Cabbage is packed with many beneficial nutrients, and thus it’s a healthy dietary option for people who want to lose weight. It is extremely low in calories with only 33 calories in a cup of cooked cabbage.
Improves brain health
Cabbage has good amount of vitamin K and anthocyanins and thus can help to improve mental functions and increase concentration. Red cabbage is especially rich in vitamin K that is according to research essential in the production of sphingolipids that protect nerves from damage and decay.
Consuming food rich in vitamin K can decrease the risk of neural degeneration and improve the defense against Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia.
Decrease the risk of heart diseases
Potassium in cabbage can protect us from elevated blood pressure that increases the risk of heart attacks. To remind you, potassium is a vasodilator, a mineral that opens up the blood vessels and eases the flow of blood.
Improves the bone health
All cruciferous vegetables are great sources of minerals that are necessary for the health of bones. Calcium, magnesium, and potassium are essential minerals and crucial for the protection of bones from degradation. Eating cabbage can prevent the onset of osteoporosis and bone weakening.
Promotes healthy skin
Cabbage is packed with antioxidants – vitamin C and E, anthocyanins, sulphur and they play an important role in skin protection and health. By protecting the body from free radicals, these antioxidants are improving the response to the aging process. As you probably know, free radicals can be a major cause of wrinkles, spots, skin discoloration and other skin related conditions.
One study showed a significant reduction in breast cancer in Chinese women when they have added cruciferous vegetables to their diets. Cabbage also contains other anti-cancer compounds: lupeol, sinigrin, and sulforaphane that are known to stimulate enzyme activity and inhibit the growth of tumors.
Protect against inflammation
Mark Twain said that “cauliflower is nothing but a cabbage with a college education.” In a way, this is true. Cauliflower is a non-starchy, cruciferous vegetable like cabbage and broccoli that contains essential vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
Cauliflower also has a high content of fiber and B vitamins. The fiber in cauliflower will help with satiety, weight loss, and digestive tract, antioxidants and phytonutrients can protect against cancer and enhance the immune system, and choline is important for brain power, learning and memory.
We mostly consume the pure white type of cauliflower. The rare variety of cauliflowers is a baby cauliflower, which is a miniature version of a regular one, about two inches in diameter. Romanesco cauliflower is a yellow-green cauliflower variety that has a milder flavor than the regular cauliflower. There’s also broccoflower, recognized by its green color of broccoli and with a sweeter flavor than the regular cauliflower.
What is the nutritional value of cauliflower?
- 25 calories
- 1.9 g of protein
- 0.3 g of fat
- 5 g of carbohydrates
- 2 g of fiber
- 1.9 g of sugar
When you consume 100 g of cauliflower you will get:
- 80% of your vitamin C RDA; one cup of raw cauliflower contains 52 mg
- 20% of vitamin K
- 10% or more of vitamin B6 and folate
Cauliflower contains a good amount of potassium. One cup of chopped raw cauliflower contains 320 mg of potassium, in comparison to a medium banana that contains 422 mg in 105 calories.
With cauliflower, you also receive smaller amounts of thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese.
The power of glucosinolates
Cauliflowers are an excellent vegetable to include in a diet. These veggies contain glucosinolates, the sulfur-containing compounds that are the reason for the cauliflower pungent smell and flavor.
They act as natural pesticides in plants, but when consumed, they act as protectors, and help with DNA damage, and prevent and slow down the growth of cancer cells. According to a study that is published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, glucosinolates have been linked with a reduced risk of colon and rectal cancer.
According to several studies that are published in a review in Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, 64% of case-control studies showed an association between high intake of cruciferous vegetables and the risk of cancer. Another study that is conducted in China in 2013, showed that cauliflower is useful for preventing breast cancer.
Furthermore, consumption of Brassica vegetable assists in reducing the risk of various types of cancers. According to the National Cancer Institute, a high intake of cauliflower has been linked to a reduced risk of aggressive prostate cancer.
Great for the bones health
Collagen may also have therapeutical effects in treating osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, according to a review from the Division of Rheumatic Diseases of the University of Cleveland.
Cauliflower is rich in vitamin C that is important for the production of collagen and also effective for treating patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
Promotes cardiovascular health
Cauliflower can promote good cardiovascular health due to several important nutrients. Vitamin K, that has anti-inflammatory properties, is also important for blood clotting, while the deficiency of vitamin K can cause hemorrhages. Researchers also suggest that this vitamin may decrease the risk of heart disease, although more research is needed.
Sulforaphane in cauliflower is also important for cardiovascular health. A review published in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity found that anti-inflammatory activities of this compound may help protect against hypertension, stroke and myocardial infarction.
Glucoraphanin has anti-inflammatory properties and help to prevent the accumulation of lipids in the blood vessels, thus reduce the risk of atherosclerosis.
Protects from inflammation
Besides vitamin C, cauliflower contains many anti-inflammatory nutrients to help keep inflammation, including indole-3-carbinol. According to a recent study, these compounds have anti-fibrosis, anti-tumor, antioxidant, detoxification, and anti-inflammation effects. Cauliflower contains more anti-inflammatory compounds: beta-cryptoxanthin, beta-carotene, caffeic acid, ferulic acid, cinnamic acid, quercetin, kaempferol, and rutin, which lower oxidative stress and help the body get rid of free radicals.
Promotes brain health
As a good source of choline, a B vitamin, cauliflower is essential for the development of the brain.
Phosphorus in cauliflower repairs cell membranes and can improve sleep, and learning, and boost memory. Choline helps in maintaining the structure of cellular membranes and assist in the transmission of nerve impulses. Potassium is also important for maintaining brain health as it promotes proper communication in the nerves.
On the other hand, vitamin K has the potential to influence psychomotor behavior and cognition as found in the review published in BioFactors. Studies with animal models found that the presence of choline during pregnancy stimulates brain activity.
Helps with detoxification
Cauliflower contains indole-3-carbinol which is a phytonutrient that helps activate and regulate the function of detoxifying enzymes. Together with sulforaphane and other compounds such as glucobrassicin, glucoraphanin, and gluconasturtiin, cauliflower in diet can help the body detox, supporting the liver.
Dietary fiber is found to be beneficial in treating constipation, and cauliflower is rich in fiber and water content. The combination of fiber and water help to maintain a healthy digestive tract, lowering the risk of colon cancer.
High fiber intake is also associated with a lower risk of developing coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and obesity. Glucosinolate can aid in protecting the lining of the stomach, decreasing the risk of different digestive disorders while sulforaphane can stimulate digestion by preventing bad bacteria and allowing good bacteria to thrive. Several studies showed that cauliflower is good for healthy digestion.
Cauliflower promotes weight loss
With only 29 calories per cup, low levels of sugar and carbohydrates, zero grams of fat, and high fiber content, cauliflower is an excellent choice for people trying to lose weight. As cauliflowers stimulate bowel movement and reduce constipation, keeping excess waste or water out of your body, these vegetable has anti-obesity properties. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry published a study that found that consumption of cauliflower helps to stimulate the fat-burning process and prevents obesity.
Decrease the risk of diabetes
The lower levels of potassium are associated with a higher risk of diabetes and regular consumption of cauliflower can thus reduce the risk of diabetes. Potassium and sodium help in regulating glucose metabolism and vitamin B6 in cauliflower can enhance glucose tolerance in patients with gestational diabetes.
Aid with neurodegenerative disorders
The study found that a higher intake of food rich in vitamin E may reduce the long-term risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Indoles and sulforaphane can reduce the progression of neurodegenerative diseases, activate the detoxification enzymes, and help in treating the neuronal injuries caused by oxidative stress.
What else should you know about Cauliflower?
- Cooking decreases the nutritional value of cauliflower, destroying most of the vitamins. If you cook cauliflower for thirty or more minutes, you will reduce the health benefits by 75%.
- When buying cauliflower, pay attention to the leaves; vibrant and fresh leaves indicate that the veggie was recently harvested.
- If the cauliflower has a strong smell, it is past its prime.
- Complex carbohydrates in cauliflower do not get broken down entirely in the digestive tract and can result in bloating and the release of odorous gas.
- Purines in cauliflower can lead to various health conditions if consumed in excess
- Cauliflower may cause a severe allergic reaction. Itching, swelling of certain body parts and breathing complications are common warning signs.
Another cruciferous vegetable that resembles mini cabbages is packed with essential nutrients. Low in calories but high in fiber, essential vitamins and minerals, there are many health benefits you gain from only a half-cup (78 grams) of cooked brussels sprout:
- Fiber – 2 grams
- Protein – 2 grams
- Carbohydrates – 6 grams
- Vitamin K: 137% of the RDI
- Vitamin C: 81% of the RDI
- Vitamin A: 12% of the RDI
- Folate: 12% of the RDI
- Manganese: 9% of the RDI
Brussels sprouts also contain small amounts of vitamin B6, potassium, iron, thiamine, magnesium and phosphorus.
Protects from inflammation
Brussels sprouts are especially good for keeping a strong immune system as they are rich in antioxidants. A study found the damage to the cells from oxidative stress can be decreased by 28% if you eat about 2 cups, which is 300 grams, of Brussels sprouts on a daily basis.
Brussels sprouts are high in kaempferol, an antioxidant that is believed to have many health-promoting properties. Some test-tube studies showed that kaempferol may ease inflammation, reduce cancer cell growth, and improve heart health.
Promotes good digestion
A half-cup of cooked Brussels sprouts contains 2 grams of fiber. This amount of fiber is fulfilling up to 8% of our daily fiber needs. As you already know, fiber is essential for good digestion, and studies showed that dietary fiber can relieve constipation. Fiber also aids by helping feed the beneficial bacteria.
Maintain healthy blood sugar levels
Brussels sprouts may also help maintain blood sugar levels steady. Several studies linked increased intake of cruciferous vegetables to a decreased risk of diabetes. Brussels sprouts also contain antioxidant alpha-lipoic acid that has potential beneficial effects on blood sugar and insulin. One study showed that patients with diabetes who were given alpha-lipoic acid supplements had increased insulin sensitivity.
May protect against cancer
Some studies found that the high levels of antioxidants in Brussels sprouts could help to protect against different types of cancer. A 2008 study found that these vegetables could protect against cancer-causing agents.
Another study found that eating Brussels sprouts can increase the levels of certain detoxification enzymes by 15–33% and they believe that this could potentially lead to a decreased risk of colorectal cancer. Additionally, brussels sprouts are rich in antioxidants and thus can neutralize free radicals and prevent oxidative stress that contributes to cancer.
Protect the bones
Brussels sprouts are a great source of vitamin K, and just a half cup of cooked Brussels sprouts provides 137% of your daily requirement. Vitamin K is essential for coagulation and plays an important role in bone growth. Eating these veggies could help protect against osteoporosis. Several studies concluded that vitamin K supplements could increase bone strength, decreasing the risk of bone fracture.
The best plant source of omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are shown to reduce blood triglycerides, slow cognitive decline, and decrease inflammation. If you include a few servings of Brussels sprouts in your diet on a weekly basis you will meet your omega-3 fatty acid needs.
These are some of the most delicious fall replacements for those who long for summer food.
The best thing is that with these fall food you do not only get to enjoy the flavor but also get to receive many health benefits, maintaining your optimum health.
Images credit: depositphotos.com
Last article update: 9/15/2019