Seasonal changes do more than just change the colors — they affect dietary rhythms, too. When eating habits aren’t catching up with these processes, loss of energy and fluctuations in weight can influence health and well-being dramatically. Even with a number of ways to track which foods are in season, it can be hard to know which foods are most important when getting ready for that shift.
Preventing winter illness with strong dietary choices starts as early as autumn. As the season changes from summer to fall, these four foods matter for anyone looking to maintain a balanced, functioning diet.
The celebrated apple, long said to keep doctors at bay, makes a versatile and powerful addition to your fall-ready meal prep. When used with skins intact, they contain high levels of flavonoids. These important nutrients have been shown to influence weight loss and are known as heart-healthy compounds. Soluble fiber like the kind found in apples lowers cholesterol and helps the digestive tract process foods more effectively.
Among their many benefits, apples can be as popular a choice for the bright color and crisp texture as they are for dietary supplements. As a whole food with a firm exterior, apples make easy snacks and side dishes for simple meals with very little preparation. The pop of flavor it gives to any recipe depends on the variety of apple, but that can range from sweet to tangy when fully ripe during the autumn months.
Often the first thing anyone reaches for when the temperatures descend is a freshly brewed cup of hot tea. Black, green, or herbal, teas served hot or cold concentrate the nutrients, which can vary in different preparations. These potent infusions make it easier for the body to extract beneficial ingredients without needing to digest more complex plant fibers. Historically, there were teas only suitable for certain seasons due to crop cycles, but tea-drinkers nowadays have many choices year-round.
In the fall, green-leaf and black-leaf oolong teas are popular because they contain necessary vitamins and minerals. The color and exact flavor of an oolong blend depend on processing practices, but all teas contain important enzymes and antioxidants. Bio-active compounds specific to oolong teas are part of promising studies related to anti-cancer research; read more to see which properties also offer the most impact on health factors like stress management and mental health.
“Eat your greens” never goes out of style as far as healthy eating principles are concerned. Autumn is often the last season to pack them into the diet before winter temperatures affect their growing cycle, either making them harder to find locally or more expensive to purchase fresh. While the basic guideline points to the darker the green meaning the more valuable nutrients it will hold, any variety of leafy greens boosts the nutritional quality of a diet.
With vitamin D from the sun often in short supply during the cold months. The elderly and the young both are more vulnerable to this change in seasons from warm months full of sunshine to the more overcast and cooler weather of fall and winter. Even with a normal diet for some children, getting enough of this priority nutrient can be difficult without a plan that includes more of these dark greens.
The holiday season isn’t the only reason waistlines start expanding in fall. Lots of people crave sweet or bread-related snacks as the temperature drops and their body signals for energy resources. Several factors like where a person lives, what their habits may be, and what kind of foods are easy to find in their area affect their health as the season changes. As the abundance of spring and summer turn to fall and winter, the body prepares for scarcity.
This is where eating pumpkin and other seasonal squash varieties can be used to replace grains and sugars as healthier alternatives. At their ripest in fall, the concentration of phytonutrients in pumpkin offers up robust health benefits. However, dishes might need to be made as savory or lean to maximize those benefits. Using safe sweetener substitutes like honey or agave can help reduce the calories and carbohydrates of dessert dishes or smoothies.
Any time the season changes is a perfect chance to review the nutritional value of a diet and adjust for the next few months. Eating with the season’s benefits not only the waistline, but it can help the wallet, too. When grocery store prices reflect the seasonal shift, the produce at its peak will often be at its cheapest. No matter what lifestyle or dietary choices are being made, many people need to review their nutrient intake to see if supplements can help them maintain a proper balance. When the growing season shifts into cooler months, it’s even more important to identify vulnerabilities — and add in foods that pack powerful, natural punches.