For many, fall means Halloween candy and pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. And while we certainly love all the sweet treats of fall, there are also tons of healthy fall vegetables that make for great additions to your dinner table.
Fall means EVERYTHING is pumpkin flavored: pumpkin pudding, pumpkin coffee, pumpkin bread mix, pumpkin soup, pumpkin peanut butter. But the “pumpkin” flavor that is added to our regular foods is actually more akin to the pumpkin pie flavor we all love, which is a spice mixture and usually a lot of sugar. But pumpkin itself, when not mixed with a pound of butter and a box of sugar, is incredibly healthy!
A cup of cooked, mashed pumpkin contains more than 200 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which is important for vision.
Pumpkin is also an excellent source of fiber with three grams per one-cup serving (and only 49 calories).
One cup of cooked butternut squash has 457% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A, even better than the already impressive pumpkin.
Like sunflowers and pumpkins, the seeds of a butternut squash can be roasted (an excellent addition to your homemade trail mix!) and are rich in protein, healthy fats and zinc. If you roast them at home you can control how much salt they are cooked with, which commercial nuts and roasted seeds are often saturated in. A half cup of butternut squash seeds is almost a third of the zinc RDA for men and almost half the RDA for women. Zinc is an important nutrient for most body processes and structures, and a deficiency can lead to a compromised immune system!
Mushrooms are a good source of B vitamins, including riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid, which help break down proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Mushrooms are among the richest sources of selenium, with 8-22 mcg per serving. Selenium is a mineral that works as an antioxidant to protect body cells from damage that might lead to heart disease, some cancers and other diseases of aging.
Mushrooms absorb and concentrate whatever they are grown in, including air and water pollutants, so opt for an organic option whenever possible.
Sweet potatoes are among the most nutritious foods in the vegetable kingdom! In some countries, sweet potatoes are a critical component of a person’s daily diet because they are so nutrient filled. A medium sized sweet potato contains more than your daily requirement of vitamin A, nearly a third the vitamin C you need, and 10 percent of the necessary potassium. Sweet potatoes also contain almost twice as much fiber as other types of potatoes. The high fiber content means their caloric energy is used more slowly and efficiently than a low-fiber carbohydrate and keeps you filling fuller longer.