Fall Fruits And Vegetables: Fresh seasonal produce can be more nutritious, sustainable, and often more affordable than out-of-season fruits and vegetables.
Pumpkins, apples, and kale are some of the most heart-healthy fall produce.
Roasting fall vegetables with heart-healthy oils can help maximize nutritional benefits.
Fall Fruits And Vegetables, Pumpkin spice season is here. But if you want to focus on eating whole fruits and vegetables, a diet rich in seasonal fall produce can support heart health.
“It’s usually picked at peak ripeness or right before peak ripeness, and since it doesn’t have to travel so far, they don’t have to wait so long for it to ripen, so you’re getting a lot of nutritional bang for your buck,” Mesa said.
Fall Fruits And Vegetables, Frozen or canned produce can be just as nutritious, she added. But if you want to shop for fresh heart-healthy produce this fall, keep an eye out for these nine fruits and vegetables.
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Fall Fruits And Vegetables, Pumpkin spice lattes may get a lot of attention this time of year, but adding actual pumpkins to your diet can be just as festive while offering more benefits for your heart.
These gourds are rich in beta-carotene, a pigment that gives pumpkins their signature orange color. Beta-carotene turns into vitamin A in your body, which has antioxidant properties that may protect against heart disease, according to Theresa Gentile, MS, RDN, CDN, a New York-based registered dietitian with expertise in cardiovascular nutrition.
Fall Fruits And Vegetables, Gentile said fresh or canned pumpkin can be used in pancake batter, hummus, smoothies, or as a partial substitute for mashed potatoes. Pumpkin puree can even replace butter in baked goods, like her “heart healthy pumpkin oat cookies” in a 4:3 ratio. “Omit four tablespoons of oil and add three tablespoons of pumpkin puree,” she said.
Fall Fruits And Vegetables, Pumpkin seeds are also nutritious. A small 2019 study suggested that pumpkin seed oil might help prevent high blood pressure in postmenopausal women. Eating whole seeds would offer the additional benefit of fiber, which can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce heart disease risk, according to Heather A. Hodson, RDN, CDN, CDCES, a clinical nutritionist at NYU Langone’s Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease.
“If pumpkin carving is in your future, don’t miss out on the nutrient powerhouse inside that can be commonly overlooked. The small-but-mighty seeds are excellent sources of fiber, antioxidants, and flavonoids which can help fight inflammation and prevent disease. Eat with the shell on for extra fiber,” Hodson said.
Fall Fruits And Vegetables, Apples are full of fiber and polyphenols, compounds in certain fruits and vegetables that are known to support heart health.
A 2020 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating two apples a day can help lower heart disease risk for people with elevated blood cholesterol levels.
Fall Fruits And Vegetables, Eating raw apples is one way to enjoy this seasonal fruit, Mesa said, but you can also try baked apples with a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg.
Fall Fruits And Vegetables, A 2020 study found that pomegranate juice could lower blood pressure, but the study was conducted on people with advanced kidney disease, so more research is needed to determine if the same benefits apply to a broader population.
However, like apples, pomegranates are rich in heart-healthy polyphenols, which give the fruit its rich color, Mesa explained.
Fall Fruits And Vegetables, She said one of her favorite fall recipes is pomegranate and roasted squash salad. Since squash contains fat-soluble beta-carotene, she recommends drizzling some olive oil on the squash before serving the salad.
“That would really help with increasing the benefits because you need that fat to absorb the beta-carotene,” Mesa said.
Fall Fruits And Vegetables, Beets are a good source of nitrates, and some research suggests that beetroot juice can help control blood pressure.
Nitrates in beets are the same compound as those in processed meats, but they don’t have the same effect on your body, according to Mesa. She said a chemical reaction between the amino acids in meat, nitrates, and high heat turns these into nitrosamines, which are associated with cancer risk.
“Beets are really rich in nitrates, and those nitrates help to dilate the blood vessels, which can help with athletes and performance, for example, but also general heart health,” Mesa said.
Fall Fruits And Vegetables, For a heart-healthy source of nitrates, beets can be added to smoothies or roasted along with other seasonal vegetables.
Fall Fruits And Vegetables, Kale and other leafy greens also contain nitrates that are good for your heart. This super food can be used in salads or mixed with turkey to make a filling for stuffed spaghetti squash.
“Kale’s high fiber content may also contribute to lower cholesterol levels, promoting heart health. Its antioxidants can fight free radicals which can also protect heart health,” Gentile said.
This cool-season green can even survive snowstorms and it “tastes sweeter after a frost,” she said.
6. Brussels Sprouts
Fall Fruits And Vegetables, Brussels sprouts are cruciferous vegetables, which are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fibers but low in calories. Some preliminary research has suggested that these vegetables may protect against vascular calcification, a build-up of minerals in blood vessels that can lead to blood clots and stroke.
Roasting Brussels sprouts with “a little olive oil and perhaps fresh garlic, basil, oregano, dill or other herbs” is one of the best ways to enjoy this fall vegetable, according to Linda Van Horn, PhD, RDN, a volunteer at the American Heart Association and a professor of nutrition at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.
Fall Fruits And Vegetables, Van Horn said the American Heart Association offers recipes that are good for your heart and are affordable. The recipe for rosemary balsamic roasted vegetables, for example, includes Brussels sprouts along with other seasonal produce like sweet potatoes and beets.
Fall Fruits And Vegetables, Cranberries don’t just protect against urinary tract infections, but they also contain polyphenols that can support heart health.
According to Gentile, cranberries contain the antioxidant proanthocyanidin, which may help lower blood pressure and improve heart health. A small study published last year in the journal Food & Function found that whole cranberry powder improved vascular function, which is a sign of improved heart health.
Fall Fruits And Vegetables, If you want to enjoy fresh cranberries this fall, Gentile said they pair well with meat dishes or are “a great addition to quick breads, like cranberry orange bread.”
8. Sweet Potatoes
Fall Fruits And Vegetables, Sweet potatoes, like pumpkins, are a good source of fiber and beta-carotene, which is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke. Hodson said that sweet potatoes contain potassium, which lowers blood pressure and can help reduce heart disease and stroke risk.
“Many seasonal fall produce items are rich in nutrients, but as with anything, the overall impact on your health comes down to how you prepare them,” Hodson said.
Fall Fruits And Vegetables, Cutting down on saturated fats, which are associated with LDL or “bad” cholesterol, is important when thinking about heart health, she said.
Animal fats, butter, cream, and coconut milk all contain saturated fats.
Fall Fruits And Vegetables, “With this in mind, you can see how dishes like sweet potato casseroles, apple pies, and other dishes that use large amounts of butter, cream, or shortening can really pack in the saturated fat,” Hodson said. “If you’re looking for a simple swap, try roasting sweet potatoes, winter squash, or brussels sprouts with a drizzle of olive or avocado oil instead of using butter or baking into a casserole.”