Best of the Season
If you’ve visited any farmer’s markets or the produce aisles at a supermarket this Fall, you have likely seen the delicious bounty of beautiful, colourful vegetables available from local farmers.
As the cold weather sets in, it’s time for some down-home comfort food that provides nutrient-dense, low-calorie goodness.
Carrots are famous for their beta-carotene content which is instrumental to having healthy eyes and here are a few other health benefits you can get from some local harvest vegetables.
Cruciferous vegetables (e.g. kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts) – these powerhouses of nutrition are excellent sources of vitamins C, K, folate and carotenes (vitamin A). This group also contains the phytochemical Indole-3-Carbinol which may reduce the risk of developing hormone-related breast cancer and they contain compounds that help the liver metabolize hormones and neutralize toxins.
Use them in soups or steamed as a side dish. Roasted Brussels sprouts are fabulous when drizzled with a little maple syrup. Kale is at its tastiest right now, either cooked or raw. I like to keep my kale simple – chopped finely and added to a salad or in a smoothie.
Squash (e.g. butternut, acorn, pumpkin, spaghetti) – winter squashes provide high amounts of carotene to support the immune system and promote healthy skin, hair & eyes. They are also very high in vitamin C, folate for red cell production and healthy skin cells, and B vitamins for energy production.
Try them roasted with fresh herbs, steamed or in soups.
Beets – roast them, steam them or shred them raw for salads. Beets are great for the liver, contain folate plus potassium which helps keep blood pressure in check. Studies show that beet fibre may also be helpful in lowering cholesterol levels.
Onions and garlic – almost every great dish begins with one or both of these amazing ingredients. In addition to a number of beneficial vitamins and minerals, both contain sulfur compounds that have been shown in studies to improve blood cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure as well as supporting the immune system. These are just the tip of the iceberg! Chopping helps to activate the beneficial compounds and it’s a good idea to let the chopped garlic or onion to rest for about five minutes before using them to get the full impact.
Apples and pears – the pectin in both fruits has been shown to be effective at lowering cholesterol when eaten daily. They also contain high amounts of antioxidants which may help fight cancer and phytosterols that are great for cardiovascular health. These fruits are filling and make handy snacks. Apples and pears are noted as having among the highest levels of residual pesticide levels so buying organic is recommended..
Sandy Badgley, B.A., R.H.N.
214 Carlton Street (Cabbagetown Chiropractic Health Centre), Toronto
First Canadian Place, Suite 5700, Toronto