September’s Superfoods: Nutrient-Dense Foods to Incorporate this Fall

Written by: Chris Abraham

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Time to read 6 min

September, with its crisp air and vibrant colors, not only heralds the start of autumn but also brings a bounty of nutrient-dense produce to our tables. As leaves begin to change color and cooler temperatures prevail, nature presents a range of superfoods packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients essential for our health. This month, we'll delve into some of the standout produce of September and explore creative ways to weave them into your meals.

"An apple a day keeps the doctor away"

Fall apples

1. Apples

"An apple a day keeps the doctor away" isn't just a saying; it's backed by nutritional facts. Apples are rich in dietary fiber, vitamin C, and a variety of antioxidants. They are especially good for heart health.


 

Nutritional Profile: At the heart of an apple's goodness lies its rich nutrient composition. A medium-sized apple is a good source of dietary fiber, particularly soluble fiber known as pectin. This type of fiber aids in improving digestion and can help lower cholesterol levels. Alongside fiber, apples are a fantastic source of vitamin C - a vitamin vital for skin health, wound healing, and immune function. But that’s not all. Apples boast a myriad of antioxidants such as quercetin, catechin, and chlorogenic acid. These compounds play a crucial role in combating oxidative stress, reducing inflammation, and even supporting brain health.


 

Serving Tip: Besides the classic apple pie, try adding thinly sliced apples to your salads or sandwiches for a sweet crunch. Apple chips or apple butter can also be delightful treats.


Fun Fact: Did you know there are over 7,500 varieties of apples? From the tart Granny Smith to the sweet Honeycrisp, there's an apple to suit every palate. So the next time you think of this humble fruit, remember, it's not just a tasty snack but a powerhouse of nutrition waiting to be explored.



Fall pumpkins

2. Pumpkin

This iconic symbol of fall isn't just for carving or pie-making; pumpkins are rich in beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. They also pack vitamins C and E, making them great for skin health and immune function.


 

Nutritional Profile: The vibrant orange hue of pumpkins speaks volumes about their primary nutrient - beta-carotene. This powerful antioxidant is a type of carotenoid that gets converted into vitamin A in our body. Vitamin A is crucial for vision, especially in dim light conditions. Additionally, it plays a vital role in promoting healthy skin, reproduction, and proper functioning of the heart, lungs, and kidneys.


 

Serving Tip: Roasted pumpkin seeds make for a tasty snack. Pumpkin puree can be a base for soups, a mix-in for oatmeal, or even a component in smoothies.


Fun Fact: Pumpkins belong to the squash family and are closely related to cucumbers, zucchinis, and melons. So, this fall, as you admire the pumpkin patches or sip on that pumpkin latte, take a moment to appreciate this remarkable fruit (yes, botanically speaking, pumpkin is a fruit!) for all the nutrition it brings to the table.


Embrace Fall's Freshness

When selecting these superfoods, remember to opt for organic and locally-sourced produce whenever possible. This not only ensures that you're getting the freshest, most nutrient-dense foods but also supports local farmers and reduces the environmental impact associated with long-distance shipping. Embrace the season fully by making sustainable choices and savoring the rich flavors of September's bounty.


 

Autumn Fresh Vegetables
Beet juice

3. Beets

Beets are not only vibrant and beautiful but also packed with health-boosting nutrients. They're known for their ability to support liver health and improve blood flow, thanks to nitrates and betalains.


 

Nutritional Profile: Beets owe their rich color to a group of antioxidants known as betalains. These phytonutrients are potent anti-inflammatories and have been linked to detoxification, particularly aiding the liver in flushing out toxins. Moreover, beets are a natural source of dietary nitrates, which our bodies convert to nitric oxide. Nitric oxide plays a crucial role in vasodilation – essentially, it helps in relaxing and widening blood vessels, which can promote healthier blood flow and even lower blood pressure.


 

Serving Tip: Beets are incredibly versatile and can be integrated into meals in numerous delicious ways. Roasting them helps intensify their natural sweetness – a simple drizzle of olive oil, a dash of salt, and a sprinkle of crumbled feta cheese, and you have yourself a gourmet side dish. If you're looking for a refreshing beverage, consider beetroot juices or smoothies. When combined with other fruits and vegetables like apples, carrots, or ginger, beetroot brings a depth of flavor and a burst of nutrition. For the adventurous palate, beet-infused hummus or beet and goat cheese salads are also delectable options worth exploring.


Fun Fact: Beets have been cultivated for food since ancient times. In fact, the ancient Romans utilized them as a treatment for fevers and various ailments. Their longstanding history and proven health benefits make them a valuable addition to any health-conscious individual's diet. So, the next time you're looking to add some color and nutrition to your meal, remember the vibrant and wonderful beet!

Brussels Sprouts

4. Brussels Sprouts

These mini cabbages are high in fiber, vitamins C and K, and pack potent antioxidants that can reduce oxidative stress in the body.


 

Nutritional Overview: Brussels sprouts are nutrient-dense powerhouses. They're packed with dietary fiber which promotes a healthy digestive system and aids in satiety, making them a great option for those looking to manage their weight. Additionally, they're an excellent source of vitamin C, a crucial antioxidant that supports immune function, aids in iron absorption, and promotes healthy skin. Their vitamin K content is equally commendable, playing an essential role in bone health and blood clotting.


 

Serving Tip: Try roasting them with a touch of olive oil, salt, and pepper. For an extra flavor punch, toss them in balsamic vinegar or sprinkle with grated parmesan.


Fun Fact: Brussels sprouts owe their name to the capital of Belgium, as they've been cultivated in this region for centuries. Their unique taste and texture have made them a favorite in various cuisines, from European to Asian.


 

Incorporating Brussels sprouts into your diet is a decision both your taste buds and your body will thank you for. Whether you're rediscovering them or trying them for the first time, these tiny greens promise a blend of flavor and nutrition that's hard to beat.


 

Figs

5. Figs

Sweet, juicy, and filled with fiber, figs are also rich in calcium and potassium. Their unique texture and taste make them a luxurious treat.


 

Nutritional Overview: Figs are nature's candy, offering natural sweetness without the guilt. But what truly sets them apart is their nutrient profile. They are a superb source of dietary fiber, which aids in digestion and helps in maintaining a healthy weight by providing a feeling of fullness. The calcium content in figs stands out, particularly for a fruit, contributing to bone health and density. Additionally, the potassium they contain can help balance sodium levels, thereby supporting heart health and regulating blood pressure.


Serving Tip: The versatility of figs makes them a culinary gem. Fresh figs, with their soft, juicy insides and slightly crunchy seeds, add dimension to salads, especially when paired with bitter greens, goat cheese, and a drizzle of honey. They also hold their own on charcuterie boards, complementing a range of cheeses, from sharp blue to creamy brie. Alone, a ripe fig can be a sumptuous treat, requiring nothing more than a moment to savor its unique taste and texture. For those who have a penchant for spreads, fig jam, with its concentrated sweetness, is an impeccable accompaniment to toasts, pastries, or even as a glaze for certain meats.

Grapes

6. Grapes

Beyond being a handy snack, grapes are full of antioxidants, especially in their skin. These include resveratrol, which is known for its heart health benefits.


 

Nutritional Overview: Grapes, especially the darker varieties, are brimming with nutrients and antioxidants. The most notable among these is resveratrol, found primarily in the skin of red and black grapes. Resveratrol has been studied extensively for its potential effects on heart health, as it may help reduce blood pressure and "bad" LDL cholesterol levels. Grapes also provide a good dose of vitamin K, essential for bone health, and vitamin C, which supports the immune system.


Serving Tip: There's more to grapes than just popping them into your mouth directly from the bunch, although that remains a delightful way to enjoy them. For a twist, freeze grapes and use them as tasty "ice cubes" that you can munch on post-drink. When it comes to salads, grapes add a burst of sweetness, pairing beautifully with bitter greens and tangy cheeses. Roasting grapes might seem unconventional, but it brings out a richer flavor and texture that complements meat dishes, especially chicken or fish. The combination of roasted grapes, thyme, and a drizzle of balsamic reduction can elevate a simple dish to gourmet levels.

Conclusion

September's superfoods offer not just nutrition but also a palette of flavors and textures to be enjoyed. As we welcome the fall season, let's make the most of these superfoods, nourishing our bodies while delighting our taste buds. Whether you're a culinary expert or just a food enthusiast, there's no better time to experiment and enjoy the natural goodness that September has to offer.