Folks get especially hyped for summer’s sweet berries, but there’s more to fall than Halloween costumes and hay rides. From September to November, the autumn harvest brings a variety of healthful and delicious produce, from squash and sweet potatoes to grapes and pears. Here's our favorite all-star fall produce, along with each selection's nutritional benefits plus some tasty tips and tricks.
FALLING FOR FALL — YOUR ACTION PLAN
Almost all produce can be grown somewhere year-round, but trucking produce across the country (or across the world) ain’t easy. According to the USDA, buying local seasonal produce not only potentially reduces our carbon footprint and helps local economies, it might also result in more nutritious produce.
On the veggie side, the entire cruciferous family — that’s the cabbage, rutabaga, and cauliflower gang — is in season and offers a compound known as glucosinolates, which may also have cancer-fighting potential. And who could forget about squash? These big, bright gourds offer healthy alpha- and beta-carotene, which promote good eyesight.
To get the best of what fall has to offer, keep track of what’s in season near you. Also, don’t be afraid to try something new. (Who knew leeks or figs would taste so good?) Check out our picks for fall’s best fare:
These sweet, crunchy fall favorites are packed with antioxidants, which may help prevent chronic illness and slow aging . Among popular apple varieties (and there are more than 7,500 different types of them!), Fuji apples have the highest concentration of antioxidants, phenolics, and flavonoids, while Cortland and Empire apples have the lowest . Quince, a floral-flavored cousin of the apple, is also at its best in autumn and can be added to jams, jellies, and desserts — but is inedible raw.
They may be available year-round, but beets are at their best in the fall. When selecting these reddish purple gems, look for firm, smooth bulbs and (if attached) bright, crisp greens. Be sure to trim these right away though, since they can leech the beets’ nutrients including betaine, a compound that may help prevent heart and liver disease, and nitrate, which may increase blood flow to the brain and potentially reduce risk of dementia .
Brussel Sprouts & Cabbage
Packed with vitamins A and C, cabbage and its mini-me, Brussels sprouts, boast a high concentration of cancer-fighting glucosinolates, (which also lend these veggies their distinct flavor) . With just a handful of ingredients and 20 minutes tops, we like our sprouts Greatist-style.
This snowy-white broccoli relative is rich in vitamin K, vitamin C, and fiber. Like other cruciferous relatives, cauliflower’s glucosinolates could also help prevent some types of cancer (specifically, lung) . Unlike the other guys though, cauliflower’s stalks and leaves typically aren’t eaten, but the florets can be served raw or cooked.
Between the size of a blueberry and a grape, cranberries are at their best October through November, though only 5 percent actually make it to the produce section (the other 95 percent are dried, canned, or turned into juice).Research suggests cranberry concentrate can help prevent urinary tract infections and fresh cranberries can prevent oral diseases and slow the growth of breast, colon, prostate, and lung cancers   .
For all 19 seasonal fruits and veggies to eat this fall, go to Greatist.com.