What is your favorite fall food?

Of course in Alaska we have limited time to enjoy our short fall season, but that’s no reason to ignore it all together!

In fact, fall is one of the best times of the year to eat healthy. Here are some healthy foods for seniors that we can readily enjoy in the fall.

Pumpkin

The sweet and spicy taste of pumpkin is perfect for the transition from summer to fall. While you can find canned or frozen pumpkin in the grocery store, it is far more nutritious to make your own.

As October approaches, suddenly, pumpkins are everywhere! But they’re not just to decorate, they’re also a healthy addition to the breakfast, lunch, or dinner table. Why should you enjoy pumpkin this fall? Pumpkin is a healthy fall food because it contains fiber, potassium, vitamin A, in the form of beta-carotene, and vitamin C.

Studies show eating foods rich in beta-carotene may lower the risk of eye-related diseases, like age-related macular degeneration, a common cause of visual loss in older people. Pumpkin has significant amounts of fiber which helps keep the digestive system moving, and is a rich source of potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure, muscle movement, and nerves.

What’s not to love? Pumpkin is a cornucopia of nutrients, and the brilliant orange color is pleasing to the eyes.

How to Enjoy Pumpkin

If you don’t want to puree your own pumpkin, you can buy unsweetened canned pumpkin at most supermarkets, and it’s quite versatile. Be careful to buy unsweetened, pure pumpkin rather than pumpkin pie filling, as it contains added sugar. Then add a spoonful to your morning porridge or your favorite morning smoothie for extra beta-carotene. How about a creamy pumpkin soup? Sliced pumpkin is delicious in salads, and a little goat cheese complements its sweetness.

Pumpkin Seeds

Searching for some healthy crunch? Pumpkin seeds should be on your list. Although they don’t get the same attention as newer players, like hemp seeds and chia seeds, they’re a superfood in their own right. If you’ve been told to avoid them because they contain fat, give them another look. The fats in sunflower seeds are the heart-healthy type. They’re also one of nature’s richest sources of protein, with 1 ounce providing 5 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and only 126 calories. This combination makes pumpkin seeds a terrific addition to your diet if you like to snack, but are trying to control your weight.

Pumpkin seeds contain minerals, including selenium, iron, and magnesium. Plus, they’re an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory activity. Omega-3s are important for brain function, heart health, and skin health.

How to Enjoy Pumpkin Seeds:

Munch on pumpkin seeds by the handful, or sprinkle them on salads and in your morning bowl of oatmeal. How about adding them to baked goods for extra protein and fiber, not to mention the vitamins and minerals they add?

Sweet Potatoes

There are few foods that are more comforting than a warm, hearty bowl of sweet potatoes. Like pumpkin, they’re an abundant source of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory beta-carotene. You’re exposed to many factors that increase oxidative stress from the environment. Beta-carotene helps reduce free radical damage that can harm your health.

Sweet potatoes are also an excellent source of fiber and potassium, which can help reduce blood pressure and lower cholesterol. Although white potatoes are also an excellent source of potassium, you won’t get beta-carotene when you bite into a white potato.

How to Enjoy Sweet Potatoes

You can serve them baked, roasted, mashed, and even sauteed. If you make potato salad, use sweet potatoes instead. Try baking one, cutting it in half, and adding your favorite veggies and toppings.

Apples

Apples are a classic fall staple. They’re available year-round, but they’re usually at their peak in the fall when apple orchards are overflowing with sweet, juicy fruit. You might have memories of eating a crunchy apple after school, but that’s a tradition you should continue! Along with their natural sweetness, they pack lots of nutrients.

Apples contain quercetin, a plant compound with antioxidant properties shown to reduce inflammation in the body. . That’s not the only antioxidant in apples. That bright red apple you bite into also contains anthocyanins, plant pigments that give them their color, and may help lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease.

If you’re like most people, you don’t get enough fiber in your diet. Research shows the average person gets about half the amount of fiber they need for good health. (38 grams daily for men and 25 grams per day for women). Apples are rich in soluble fiber, the type of fiber linked with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and better blood sugar control. One type of fiber in apples is called pectin, a soluble fiber that reduces cholesterol levels. And they’re simply delicious!

How to Enjoy Apples:

You can enjoy one of the hundreds of varieties of apples, just as it is or turn it into applesauce. Dice apples into small chunks and add them to salads and wraps, or make a Waldorf salad. Spread peanut butter or almond butter on an apple for a healthy and balanced snack that contains vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, and antioxidants. Skip the apple juice. Eating a whole apple is friendlier to your blood sugar.

Pecans

If you walk by a pecan tree in the fall, you’ll the nuts on the ground. That’s why pecans are so popular in the fall. Although pecan pie might not be the healthiest autumn dish, it’s the sugar that’s problematic. Pecan nuts are rich in antioxidants. They’re also high in monounsaturated fat (the type of fat that helps lower bad cholesterol levels and raise good cholesterol levels), and low in saturated and trans fats. People who consume more monounsaturated fat tend to have a lower risk of heart disease.

How to Enjoy Pecans:

You can enjoy pecans raw or roasted, but they’re best when you eat them in the fall — that’s when they’re at their sweetest. Add them to salad, baked goods, or oatmeal for a delicious and nutritious treat.

The Bottom Line

Enjoy these healthy fall foods! They’re as healthful as they are delicious.