Autumn is traditionally a season where the hard work of the spring and summer — tilling, plowing, planting, watering, feeding, growing, pruning, and gleaning — pays off in a bountiful harvest. Farmer’s markets display produce bursting with autumn colors; seas of yellow, orange, muted reds, and purple dominate the visual landscape.
Let’s take a look at some of the health benefits of a sample of the fruits and vegetables that are in-season this Fall.
Root vegetables rule the day in the Fall, and beets are the rootiest of them. Their purple and golden varieties add splashes of color to your plate (and if you’ve ever eaten them, you know that’s not all they’ll add color to). They’re a good source of fiber and antioxidants, and thus can help reduce inflammation.
Cauliflower is grown year-round in many parts of the U.S., but autumn is its natural season. It is a popular vegetable on its own. Still, the popularity of low-carbohydrate diets has fostered the re-purposing of its low carbohydrate content to make rice. 100 grams of cauliflower rice has about 15% of the calories of brown rice (25 vs. 200) and contains a host of nutrients, most notably 58% of the recommended intake of vitamin C.
Swiss chard is a distant cousin of beets. It can grow all year in many climates since it is relatively frost-resistant. This leafy green is very high in vitamin K — even more than grapefruit — and over 40% of the recommended intake for vitamin A.
These northern berries have air pockets that give them a grape-like shape, allowing them to float to the surface for harvesting. Autumn is harvest season for cranberries, and it is also when they gain their distinctive red color as they ripen. They contain phytonutrients and antioxidants, and a sizable amount of vitamin C.
More than just a side dish to your favorite sushi, these immature soybeans can be found in a variety of preparations. Soybeans are among the oldest legumes, originating in East Asia over 7000 years ago. Edamame is high in protein and packed with essential nutrients, including nearly every B vitamin (such as folate, B12, and thiamine), iron, manganese, and many other vitamins and minerals.
These vibrant and majestic varieties of tomato are more delicate than conventional tomatoes, but have higher levels of carotenoids and generally a sweeter taste. They are a favorite at chefs’ tables due to their ability to be favorably paired with savory herbs, cheese, or many other foods.
These small, hardy, sweet fruits burst with flavor and are incredibly versatile. They can be eaten when underripe and will have the crisp consistency of a pear. When ripe, persimmons have a plum-like texture. Even when overripe, they have a candy-like sweetness and the consistency of a fig. With the acorn-shaped Hachiya and tomato-like Fuyu varieties available, these fruits are available in every shade of orange. A single persimmon has 6 grams of fiber and 55% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A
These fruits of the late summer and Fall have been consumed since prehistoric times. They can ripen at room temperature (be sure to “check the neck” for your desired level of ripeness. The juice from pears has been recommended as a laxative for generations, due to the fruit’s relatively high fiber content.
The undisputed royalty of fall produce, pumpkins are planted in late spring (in colder climates) or early summer (in warmer ones) to get them ready for Halloween decorations, for pumpkin pie, or to spice up your latte. But these squash family superstars are excellent edibles on their own: they’re high in carotene, low in glycemic index, and are loaded with minerals.
A staple food of the continents that surround the Indian Ocean, taro is a resilient tuber (like a potato or a yam) that can be grown in several types of conditions. It is one of the oldest cultivated crops and attained its staple food status due to its high-calorie density (187 calories per cup), low glycemic index, and high fiber content (7 grams per cup).
Interested in the other seasons’ fruit and vegetable lists? Check them out below!
- 7 In-Season Fruits & Veggies to Add to Your Plate this Winter
- 6 In-Season Fruits & Veggies to Add to Your Plate this Spring
- 10 In-Season Fruits & Veggies to Try this Summer
All of the health information for these fruits and vegetables can be found at the United States Department of Agriculture Nutritional Database.