This fall, if you’re more excited about the foliage than the in-season produce, you probably aren’t thinking beyond predictable apples and pumpkins. But there are so many other tasty, nutritious foods that are at the peak of freshness during autumn—and they are available at local farmers markets and in the supermarket produce aisle.
“Eating seasonally is a great idea and can be a fantastic way to increase the variety in your diet,” says Randy Evans MS, RD, LD, a Kansas City, Missouri-based registered dietitian and consultant for Fresh n’ Lean. “The primary benefit to eating fresh foods, and following foods that are in season, is that it can boost the nutritional value [of the food]. Nutritional values can decline by one-third within a few days of harvest.”
When you’re shopping this month, instead of mindlessly plunking the same old fruits and vegetables into your basket, vary what you choose based on the seasons. “There are always unique phytochemical benefits from eating produce, but when it’s in season, tastier, and cheaper—and it could inspire more frequent produce consumption, everyone wins,” says Monica Auslander Moreno, MS, RD, LD/N, a Miami-based nutrition consultant.
Keep an eye out for these five fall foods:
You probably associate cranberries with a certain fall holiday, but it would be a shame if you only ate them once a year, as an over-sweetened accompaniment to your turkey and stuffing. “Cranberries aren’t just good for sauce,” says Brenna O’Malley, RD, a New York City-based registered dietitian and founder of The Wellful. “You can add whole berries to your breakfast cereal for some added fiber, antioxidants, and crunch… One cup of raw cranberries packs more than 20% of your daily vitamin C, 4 grams of fiber, and plenty of antioxidants.”
There are other ways to incorporate cranberries into your meals. “Cranberries are delicious blended in a smoothie, such as one with a plant-based milk such as almond milk, freshly chopped ginger, banana, and berries,” says Lori Tseytin, a holistic health coach based in Englewood, New Jersey. “The tart flavor of cranberries pairs well with bold flavors like ginger.”
These pint-sized veggies are often sold on stalks when they’re in season, with dozens of buds per stalk, each one bursting with nutrition. “Brussels sprouts are known to help our bodies with detoxification [by supporting a healthy liver], while boosting antioxidant intake,” Evans says. “They also contain great levels of vitamin K, vitamin C, folate, manganese, fiber, and potassium.”
For a simple side dish, halve them and toss them into a frying pan. “Brussels sprouts are delicious sautéed with spices such as red pepper and garlic, coconut oil, lemon, and a pinch of Himalayan sea salt,” Tseytin says.
You’ll get the most nutrition out of this tangy seasonal fruit if you eat the seeds at the center of each aril, or kernel-sized piece of pomegranate. “Pomegranates are high in antioxidants, vitamin C, and potassium, and if you’re eating the seeds, they’re a great source of fiber,” O’Malley says. “Eating the seeds whole will also provide more fiber than the juice—five grams for three-quarters of a cup.”
There are a number of ways to enjoy pomegranates. “Since they are crunchy, pomegranate seeds are a great addition to salads, salsas, cereals, and yogurt,” says Jennifer Glockner, RDN, a Los Angeles-based registered dietitian nutritionist and creator of Smartee Plate. “Pomegranate is also delicious in salmon and poultry dishes, glazing with pomegranate molasses.”
This root vegetable has a look similar to carrots, but it’s less sweet, with a nuttier flavor. “They’re a great source of vitamin C, potassium, and folate,” O’Malley says. “Parsnips have both soluble and insoluble fiber, which supports your digestive health and can help support blood-sugar levels.”
Mash them, roast them, add them to soups or stews, or make them the star of their own side dish. “Try them as parsnip fries,” O’Malley says. “Cut them lengthwise, season with olive oil, fresh rosemary, chopped garlic, and cumin, then roast.”
You may find these fiber-rich, nutrient-dense nuts in farmers markets or the produce aisle during fall, when they’re harvested. “They’re a source of vitamin E and also have a small amount of omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and help boost your HDL (good) cholesterol,” O’Malley says.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.