5 Fall Foods With A Heart-Healthy Boost + How To Cook Them
Fall produce isn't just gorgeous, it's also nutrient-packed. And it turns out that many all-star autumn ingredients are great for the most important muscle in your body—your heart. Read on to learn about some of my favorite fall produce that deserves a spot in all your ticker-friendly seasonal dishes.
Grapes (green, red, and black) are in season now and contain a mix of beneficial antioxidants and other polyphenols1, including flavonoids and resveratrol, which have anti-inflammatory properties and play a role in supporting heart health.
How to use: Grapes make a refreshing snack any time of day and are also wonderful in overnight oats, salads, and blended into smoothies for natural sweetness.
Everyone's favorite gourd isn't just great for carving, it's also smart for your heart. Pumpkin is rich in potassium2, with 1 cup of the puree offering nearly 500 mg of this heart-healthy mineral. And the same serving is packed with 6 grams of filling fiber.
How to use: Add pumpkin puree to your oatmeal, smoothies, muffins, pancakes, and more!
This bell-shaped winter squash is harvested from mid-August through November. The butternut's intensely orange flesh is packed with sight-saving beta-carotene3. It's also a superfood for heart health. One cup of cooked butternut boasts one-quarter of the fiber you need for the whole day, and as much potassium as a potato, which is important for maintaining healthy blood pressure.
How to use: Butternut is wonderful cubed and roasted or steamed. The next time you make muffins, swap half the butter or oil for 1 cup of mashed butternut.
This seasonal beauty isn't just delicious in fall desserts. Studies have found that eating apples daily may help lower cholesterol levels4 and other markers associated with heart disease. The soluble fiber in apples—pectin—is the component that's responsible for the cholesterol-lowering effect. It actually blocks cholesterol in the gut and encourages the body to use it instead of storing it.
How to use: Apples make a super snack, but you can also slice them into salads, sauté in coconut oil for a side dish, and bake them with spices for a healthy treat. Or, try my favorite apple spice smoothie recipe.
This dark leafy green is available year-round but peaks in late fall to early winter. In addition to being fantastic for your eyes, kale also contains a hefty amount of calcium (359 mg per 2 cups cooked). While we think of calcium mostly for bone health, it's also super important for our hearts. The mineral, along with magnesium and potassium, helps regulate blood pressure. Plus, calcium plays a role in weight management, which is also smart for your ticker.
How to use: Kale is delicious chopped in salads, sautéed with garlic, and used in baked dishes, like this Butternut & Kale Lasagna.
Next time you go to the farmers market or grocery store this fall, consider adding some of these heart-healthy and delicious fall favorites to your haul.
Frances Largeman-Roth, R.D. is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, a New York Times bestselling author and nationally recognized nutrition and wellness expert. Frances is the author of Smoothies & Juices: Prevention Healing Kitchen, Feed the Belly: The Pregnant Mom's Healthy Eating Guide and Eating In Color: Delicious, Healthy Recipes for You and Your Family. She is also the co-author of the bestselling The CarbLovers Diet.
Frances is a freelance writer and recipe developer for numerous publications, including Today.com, Parents, and Parade. She has appeared on numerous national TV shows, including The Today Show, The Dr. Oz Show, The Rachael Ray Show, Good Morning America, Access Hollywood Live and CNN. Frances contributes expert quotes to national publications and also helps healthy food brands share their message. Frances is a member of the James Beard Foundation and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She received her undergraduate degree at Cornell University and completed her dietetic internship at Columbia.
Frances, her husband and three kids live in Brooklyn, NY. To learn more, go to her website, or follow her on Instagram.