Happy Thanksgiving! As you prepare for your holiday festivities, our nutritionist Laura Palazzolo would like to share some common fall foods that can be included in your celebrations along with recipes to share with your friends and family.
5 Foods to Include in Your Fall Harvest Celebration
1. Apples are a rich source of quercetin, a potent antioxidant. They are also a rich source of flavinoids and phenolic compounds (types of phytochemicals – compounds made by plants that may positively effect health). They have a higher portion of free phenolics, meaning more is able to enter the blood stream to exert its effects when compared to other fruits. The peels and flesh have different phytochemicals, with the peels having larger antioxidant activity. Apples tend to be high in pesticide residue, so it’s important to try and buy organic if you are going to eat the skin. Pink Lady’s have been shown to have the highest level of flavinoids of the varieties tested.
2. Beets add vibrant color to any plate, they may also benefit cognition and blood pressure. One study showed significant blood pressure lowering properties in people who drank one 500 ml (that is 16.5 ounces) dose of beet juice. Another found results with 250 ml (about 8 ounces), which was sex dependent, with only the males benefiting. This study used beetroot bread to exert beets’ benefit on blood pressure. Research suggests that beet juice may be helpful in cognitive function by increasing blood flow to the brain.
3. Brussels sprouts belong to the cruciferous family of vegetables, which have been dubbed as “cancer preventers” potentially due to their sulfur containing compounds, which gives them their distinctive smell during cooking. Sulforaphane is one such molecule found in this class of vegetables that is actively being studied in cancer. Try roasting them as stand alones or in vegetable medleys, or thinly shaving them on to salads.
4. Pumpkin flesh is high in beta-carotene (the precursor molecule to vitamin A). Beta-carotene is part of the carotinoid family of phytochemicals and acts as an antioxidant, boosts the immune system, and increases communication within cells (this is part of the reason for its anti-cancer reputation, though only in food, not supplement form). The flesh is also high in potassium and vitamin C, while the seeds are high in zinc and tryptophan. Try including pumpkin in more than just its traditional forms this season. Although fresh has superior taste, you can also enjoy canned pumpkin year round – just remember to buy plain pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie mix!
5. Cranberries have antimicrobial properties, may reduce certain heart disease risk factors in women (specifically oxidized LDL cholesterol) and have been studied in anti-cancer research. Most pre-packaged cranberry products are usually heavily sugared, while fresh cranberries are naturally low in sugars (4 g sugars for 1 cup whole berries). Your best bet is to buy whole fresh or frozen cranberries to add to your favorite dishes and ditch the sweetened juices, premade sauces and sweetened dried cranberries.
Try these healthful recipes on your table this year:
by Laura Palazzolo
The Center for Integrative Medicine wishes you a happy, healthy and safe Thanksgiving Holiday.