Foods from nature are amazing. They can be eaten and prepared in a variety of ways, can be grown in our own yards, and they give us nutrients that are needed for a particular season. For example, produce like watermelon and tomatoes are in season in the summer so they can protect our skin from the harsh sun. In the fall, fruits and vegetables that are in season help to strengthen our immune systems so they’re ready for the winter.
Choosing fruits and vegetables that are in season not only benefits your body but it’s also a more cost effective way to grocery shop. All of the produce listed below offers immunity boosting health benefits that your body needs right before cold and flu season. Here are some of my favorites that provide the vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals when we need them the most.
My Favorite Fall Produce Picks
Just one cup of sweet potatoes contains more than seven times the amount of beta-carotene that an adult needs per day. Beta-carotene has been shown to increase immune cell numbers and activity, arming your body for better defense.
Sweet potatoes also contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, both which help feed the good bacteria in your gut. Since 80% of your immune system is actually located in your gut, this makes sweet potatoes a strong choice to incorporate in your diet leading up to peak cold and flu season.
Eat one medium sized pear and you’ve gotten in six grams of fiber. This accounts for 22 percent of your daily fiber needs. Pears are also rich in vitamin C and minerals like copper—two things the immune system needs to function properly.
Simply eat a pear for a snack, add one to a smoothie, or top your favorite oatmeal with fresh pears and a dash of cinnamon.
Pomegranates are a great produce choice in the fall because they’re high in antioxidants. Pomegranates specifically contain an antioxidant called punicalagin, which are found to be three times more powerful than the antioxidant activity in green tea. Pomegranates also contain more than 100 phytochemicals that nourish the body and further support our immune systems.
Pectin, a type of fiber found in apples, accounts for about 50 percent of an apple’s total fiber content. The pectin has prebiotic benefits which feed the good bacteria in your gut. The skin of an apple also boasts health benefits: It contains quercetin, a type of plant pigment flavonoid that helps boost your immune system and reduce inflammation.
Enjoy sliced apples with peanut butter, toss them in a salad, or even add them to a sandwich.
Commonly added to soups or sandwiches, onions are full of phytonutrients that play a role as immunomodulators. This means they help activate and regulate the immune system. Onions are also excellent at fighting bacteria, including E. Coli and Staph.
So many people cook with garlic on a regular basis—regardless of the season. If you tend to add garlic to your recipes, keep it up! Garlic is a huge help to our immune systems.
When garlic is chopped, sulfur compounds like allicin are formed. These compounds enter the body from the digestive tract and spread throughout our systems. Allicin has been shown to kill bacteria, fungus, and deactivate viruses. Daily garlic intake has been found to reduce the number of colds by 63 percent.
Squash is so delicious this time of year. Squash casserole, squash soup, and spaghetti squash are all flavorful dishes that are full of nutrients. In particular, squash is packed with beta-carotene and alpha-carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A. Vitamin A supports white blood cells, which act as first responders during a viral or bacterial infection.
We all know that vitamin C is helpful when we’re sick, and good news, squash is rich in it! Vitamin C helps support many cellular functions of your body’s adaptive immune system.
You see pumpkins everywhere in the fall—at farms, in people’s homes, and at the grocery store. While pumpkins are fun to carve and use for seasonal decor, they’re also great to eat.
Pumpkins are high in beta-carotene, which as mentioned above, the body converts into vitamin A. They’re also high in vitamin C, which helps increase white blood cell production and fight off bacteria and viruses.
The compound curcumin found in turmeric is a potent immunomodulatory agent that can promote the activation of T cells, B cells, macrophages, neutrophils, natural killer cells, and dendritic cells. These all help regulate our immune system.
Turmeric is known to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and anticancer properties, but most of the benefits come from its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. The anti-inflammatory properties help relieve the symptoms of coughs and colds.
If you’re looking for ways to add turmeric into your diet, consider adding it to your smoothies or making your wellness shots with ginger, lemon, turmeric, and black pepper. It’s important to use black pepper with turmeric because it helps it absorb into your body.
Other Produce That’s in Season in the Fall:
- Brussels sprouts
As you can see, there are tons of fruits and vegetables that are great to reach for in the fall. When in doubt, head to your local farmers market to see what type of produce is in season. Shopping at a farmers market is also a great way to support local vendors and it can be easier to find organic options.
If you’re overwhelmed by this list and you’re not sure how to prepare these fruits and vegetables, remember that they can just be added to salads or smoothies. They can also be enjoyed on their own—try roasting them and adding seasonings like salt and pepper. The most important thing to keep in mind that eating seasonal foods is a great way to support your body. When in doubt, trust nature!