In Season: Immune-Boosting Fruits & Veg For October
It’s always better to eat in season. Seasonal produce is more nutritious because once a fruit or vegetable is harvested, it begins to lose its vitamin and mineral content. The closer food is from farm to table, the better it is for you. When it comes to fall fruits and vegetables, there are many to choose from in order to keep your immune health in check ahead of winter (i.e. cold and flu season). Read on to learn more about some immune-boosting fruits and veg for October meals.
What fruits and veggies help boost the immune system?
Technically, all fruits and vegetables can help keep the immune system healthy. That’s because they all contain vital nutrients the body needs to function at its best. Even if a particular vitamin doesn’t directly affect the immune system, it helps other bodily processes run smoothly. Since the human body is symbiotic, when one process works correctly, the others are more likely to.
What are the best fall fruits and vegetables for immune health?
Certain fall vegetables and fruits may be better than others for immune health because they contain specific nutrients that lend a hand in immunoregulation and keeping immune cells healthy. The best fall fruits and vegetables to choose if you want to boost your immune system this season include:
Sweet potatoes are versatile and can be used in savory and sweet dishes. Since they can be prepared in many ways, it’s not hard to incorporate them into your diet this season. Besides their delicious taste, sweet potatoes' added benefit is how well they help the immune system.
Sweet potatoes contain vitamins A, C, B6, and B5, as well as potassium, iron, copper, and manganese. Because of their dense nutrient content, sweet potatoes have been shown to possess anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and antibacterial properties. These effects are all good for the immune system.
Beets are an acquired taste, but there’s no denying the health benefits of this vibrant root vegetable. They contain vitamin C, folate, vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, potassium, and manganese. The body uses these nutrients, especially vitamin C, to help keep the immune system running as it should. Studies show that eating beets regularly can help fight off infections by giving the immune system the added boost it needs.
Brussels sprouts are considered a superfood in their own right because of the health benefits they possess. They contain phytochemicals, vitamins C and K, minerals, and fiber. Studies show that eating Brussels sprouts is great for the immune system because they help fight disease and infection. That is because they allow specific immune cells, known as natural killer cells, to activate when needed. This keeps the body primed and ready to fight off any virus that comes your way.
Nothing screams fall quite like pumpkin. It’s the unofficial vegetable of the season! While many people use pumpkin as a flavoring in pies (or just as a seasonal decoration), eating it more often can help the immune system stay strong through winter. Research has investigated the health benefits of pumpkin and found that in addition to boosting the immune system, it also helps to cleanse the liver, reduce inflammation, and prevent chronic disease.
Butternut squash, like pumpkin, belongs to the family of winter squashes. These foods are all highly versatile, and butternut squash is no exception. It has a sweet taste that is slightly nutty and can be used in sweet or savory foods. It’s also brightly hued, adding a pop of color to any meal it’s incorporated in.
When it comes to health benefits, butternut squash packs a real punch. It contains high levels of vitamin C and antioxidants. Both nutrients help manage the action of the immune system by encouraging proper function and warding off free radicals.
Kale is another fall vegetable considered a superfood because of its high nutritional content. The leafy green vegetable can be grown throughout the year and typically peaks around late fall. It can be a little bitter, so not everyone loves the taste. However, it can be used in various ways, so it’s easy to incorporate into your diet even if you’re not the biggest fan.
Kale’s nutrient content is impressive. It contains protein, fiber, antioxidants, beta-carotene, vitamin C, lutein, and polyphenols, all of which make it one of the top 10 cancer-fighting vegetables you can eat. When it comes to the immune system, the nutrients in kale, plus its ability to keep the gut healthy, aid in a robust immune system. Many immune cells reside in the gut, and when the gut is happy, the immune system is happy too.
Apples are another fall food that can be used in so many ways. It’s hard to find someone who won’t enjoy at least one apple-rich dish. If you’ve heard the saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” we’re happy to confirm how accurate it is!
Apples are high in antioxidants, fiber, and phytonutrients, all of which aid in the immune system's proper functioning. Research has shown that eating apples helps immunity and reduces the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
Last but certainly not least is the little flavor bomb, the cranberry. These seasonal fruits are perfect for various savory and sweet dishes. They often don’t get the attention they deserve for their health benefits (outside the urinary tract world!). But as it turns out, cranberries are jam-packed with essential antioxidants that keep inflammation from getting out of control within the body.
Cranberries can help the immune system in several body areas, including the gut. When the immune system has a solid helping hand, even from something as small as a cranberry, it can do a much better job warding off disease.
Eating seasonally can help keep you full of the nutrients you need to stay healthy all winter long, especially if you choose from the above list of fall fruits and vegetables!