Recent research showed that cinnamon may help lower blood glucose levels for people with Type 2 diabetes. (Getty Images)
Fall is a popular favorite season because it’s crisp, colorful and comfy. But there’s yet another reason to love this time of year: It’s healthy – or at least can be. Simmering research suggests that wonderful fall foods aren’t only rich with flavor, but they’re also packed with nutrition and health benefits. Here are six ingredients you need to embrace this season – and ideas for how to use them:
Cranberry juice has been touted as an elixir for fighting urinary tract infections, possibly due to its abundance of a group of phytochemicals known as proanthocyanins. Lesser known is that cranberries provide other antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that are good for your heart.
- Top your oatmeal with dried cranberries and nuts for a hearty breakfast.
- Add dried cranberries to cooked quinoa for a fruity side dish.
- Roast fresh cranberries with oil, thyme and a sprinkling of sugar, and add them to a cold, leafy green salad.
When it comes to garlic, studies suggest that it may lower your blood cholesterol (though to be fair, the reduction is likely small). The National Cancer Institute lists garlic as food that may help fight stomach and colon cancers in some folks. Not bad for one pungent bulb. Keep a jar of chopped garlic in your refrigerator for a no-prep way to add the flavor of garlic to:
- Sauteed veggies;
- Soups, especially vegetable and chili; or
- Roasted chicken or turkey.
A recent review of several studies showed that cinnamon may help lower blood glucose levels for people with Type 2 diabetes. This could be especially important among the over 85 million Americans who have prediabetes and are on the fast track to full-fledged diabetes.
- Top your morning java with a splash of frothy 1-percent milk and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
- Slice a crisp apple into eight pieces and dust each with cinnamon for a spicy afternoon snack.
- Add a sprinkling of cinnamon to iced or hot tea.
Studies suggest sage may help improve memory and attention in older adults.
- Add chopped sage to roasted fall veggies such as winter squash and sweet potatoes.
- Add a sprinkling of sage to a vegetable omelet.
- Add sage to slow cooker recipes containing beef and pork.
Turmeric contains curcumin, which has been shown to have potential anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and antioxidant properties in animal and laboratory studies.
- Add dried turmeric to your favorite stew and soup recipes.
- Combine a dash of turmeric with brown rice and raisins for a spicy side dish.
- Top sliced carrots with turmeric and olive oil before roasting.
If you feel queasy from motion sickness, chemotherapy or surgery, ginger may help subdue your nausea. (I, for one, appreciated ginger ale’s stomach-soothing effects when I was pregnant.)
- Shredded ginger adds an Asian flavor to stir-fry dishes.
- Combine chopped ginger with honey for a sweet topping for grilled salmon.
- Add grated ginger to oil and vinegar for a spicy salad dressing.
Enjoy my homemade (but easy-to-make) soup full of fall flavors:
Fall Vegetable Soup ItalianoServings: 9
1 tablespoon olive oil 2 garlic cloves, crushed 1 large Spanish onion, chopped 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced 4 cups broccoli florets 2 cups sliced zucchini 28-ounce canned Italian peeled tomatoes, low sodium 2 cups water 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning 1 bay leaf1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 9 tablespoons fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or fresh Parmesan cheese
In large soup pot, saute garlic in olive oil for one minute. Add onion and saute for an additional three minutes. Add remaining ingredients, except the cheese. Simmer for 45 minutes to one hour. Discard bay leaf, and ladle soup into individual bowls. Top with 1 tablespoon cheese.
Nutrition information per 1-cup serving: 105 calories; 4 g fat (1.5 g saturated); 5 mg cholesterol; 284 mg sodium.
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Joan Salge Blake, Contributor
Dr. Joan Salge Blake EdD, RDN, FAND, has covered numerous nutrition and healthy lifestyle topic… Read moreDr. Joan Salge Blake EdD, RDN, FAND, has covered numerous nutrition and healthy lifestyle topics for U.S. News’ Eat+Run blog since 2015. She is a clinical associate professor at Boston University, where she received the prestigious Whitney Powers Excellence in Teaching Award. She is the author of “Nutrition & You: Core Concepts to Good Health” and “Eat Right The E.A.S.Y. Way.” She is also the co-author of “Nutrition: From Science to You.” Joan is a sought-after speaker at conferences and has received the Massachusetts Dietetic Association’s Young Registered Dietitian, Outstanding Dietetic Educator and Outstanding Dietitian awards. Joan has conducted more than 1,500 media interviews and has been quoted in or written for outlets including The New York Times, Food Network, Newsweek, The Washington Post, Forbes, Prevention, WebMD, Consumer Reports, MSNBC, The Boston Globe, Boston Herald, USA Today, ABC.com, EveryDayHealth.com, iVillage.com, AOL.com, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, Business Traveler, Forbes, Newsday, Time, Today’s Dietitian, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Boston Phoenix, Patriot Ledger, Readers Digest, Cosmopolitan, People, Parade, Cooking Light, Parents, Fitness, Parenting, Shape, Self, Weight Watchers, Woman’s World, Health, Redbook, Family Circle, Martha Stewart Living, Rachel Ray, Working Mother, Glamour, More, Sports Illustrated, Woman’s Day, All You and O Magazine. She was named by Good Housekeeping magazine as the expert to follow on Twitter for healthy eating. Joan has also appeared on CBS, The Early Show, CNN, CBS News, NBC News, NPR, WBUR, Fox Boston, ABC Boston, WBZ TV Boston, WHDH TV Boston, Pure Oxygen, Chronicle, Doctors on Call, and NiteBeat. Links to her media interviews can be found on her website. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, and connect with her on LinkedIn.
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