Food and Fall

Amanda

Fall: It’s the time of year again when the leaves change color, pumpkin spice lattes fill every coffee shop, weekends are full of cider and doughnuts, and we try to hold on to the last few days of warmth.  It’s also full of delicious, festive, and unfortunately, not-so-good-for-you foods (the above mentioned lattes and doughnuts, as well as pumpkin pies, turkey and dressings, and ice cream.)  While I love all of those foods, it’s also true that they are a large part of the growing health problems in this country.  My love of food but lack of understanding in exactly what’s the best for you led me to take a nutrition class this fall on macronutrients.

Some key takeaways:

  • Over 95% of Americans do not have enough fiber.  Some great sources of fiber include beans, whole grains, nuts, vegetables, and bran.  Fiber greatly improves digestive mobility.
  • You’ve all heard it before: not all fats are bad; in fact, omega-3 fatty acids have many health benefits including reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and hypertension as well as boosting immunity.  However, the type of fat DOES matter.  Good fats: mono- and polyunsaturated fats.  Bad fats: saturated and trans fats.
  • Our diets are too full of added sugars (this one’s hard for me since I have such a sweet tooth).  Sugar increases our resistance to insulin, promotes inflammation, and isn’t very filling, leaving us consuming excess calories.
  • The human body is AMAZINGLY resourceful in utilizing different food sources, adapting gut microbiota to different diets, and constantly regulating glucose, insulin, and energy levels to keep us running all day.  Treat it well!

So while loading up on our favorite fall treats may not be the healthiest habit this fall, we can indulge in several other seasonal foods that give us the nutrients and health benefits we need and still get that “fall fix” we all love:

Photo courtesy: dietsinreview.com.

Squash and Pumpkins: heart-healthy, full of antioxidants and vitamin C, and reduces inflammation

Sweet potatoes: lots of Vitamin A for a strong immune system and almost sodium-free

Apples: contain fiber, antioxidants, vitamin C (an apple a day…)

Pears: a sweet treat full of fiber

Nuts: contain healthy fats and reduce cholesterol

 

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