A varied diet, rich in vegetables and fruits, is the foundation of optimum health. By incorporating all the colors of the rainbow on your plate, you add ideal sources of health-protective vitamins and phytonutrients to your healthy lifestyle. The following fruits and vegetables are in season during fall in North America – add them to your meals today!
1. Apples. Nothing says fall more than apple picking, an autumn tradition in North America. Apples are an easily portable source of nutrients that may indeed “keep the doctor away” if eaten daily: They are a good source of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, and provide vitamin C, which helps support healthy immune function. With all the varieties of apples available today, take the time to sample several to find the ones you will enjoy most. Pippin, Granny Smith and Gravenstein varieties are pleasantly tart and are good for cooking as they stand up well to heat. For a sweeter taste, look for a Red or Golden Delicious, and opt for the Fuji, Braeburn or Pink Lady varieties if a more complex mixture of sweet and tart is what you are after. Choose apples free of blemishes, and always seek out organically grown apples to avoid pesticide exposure.
2. Lima Beans. Also called butter beans, lima beans are an excellent source of soluble fiber, which can help lower cholesterol and promote stable glucose levels. They also provide insoluble fiber - good for people with constipation and gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome. In addition to quality protein, they contain folate and magnesium - two essential micronutrients important to heart health. You can find lima beans dried, frozen or canned year- round (if you choose canned varieties, pick products with no sodium added), but they can also be found fresh in the summer and fall months. Lima beans, like other legumes, have an appealing texture that make them a good substitute for meat in many recipes.
3. Onions. Onions should be a staple in every kitchen, and not just because of the wonderful flavor they add to foods. They are also just plain good for you: allicin, a phytonutrient found in most varieties of onions, may contribute to its health benefits, including lowering both cholesterol and blood pressure. Onions are also an excellent source of chromium, vitamin C, folate and dietary fiber. Whether you opt for red (a strong, sweet flavor that is delicious raw), yellow (medium flavor that works well when cooking) or white (the mildest of the three and also a good choice when cooking), choose onions that are free of blemishes and with dry outer skins. Avoid onions that are sprouting, feel damp or mushy, or have signs of mold. Always seek out organically grown onions, as pesticides are commonly used on conventionally grown varieties. Store onions away from bright light, at room temperature, in a well-ventilated area.