By Tammy Stokes, Founder Cafe West Express
Apples, cranberries, mushrooms, sweet potatoes and Brussel sprouts, oh my! These five foods are not only in peak season, but they come with good reason to eat them now. With cold and flu season upon us, it’s wise to select foods high in nutrients that support the immune system. These fall favorites are delicious and nutritious.
Here’s why you should fall in love with them now:
Apples are a good source of fiber. Pectin is a soluble fiber found in apples that has been proven to lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and regulate blood sugar. The skin of the apple contains potent antioxidants, valuable phenols and powerful flavonoids. These compounds are known to help reduce risks of asthma, diabetes and heart disease. Eating apples can help reduce the impact of seasonal allergies. No wonder why they say, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
These ruby red berries are bursting with nutrients that serve your body and protect it from common bacterial infections. Add cranberries to your favorite smoothie recipe. To offset their tartness, combine them with naturally sweet tropical fruits like banana.
Mushrooms have been used medicinally in Eastern medicine for centuries. Western medicine is just beginning to catch up on the medicinal benefits and healing properties of the fungal kingdom. Two specific species have been studied extensively for their powerful effects on the immune system; Shiitake and Reishi. We have put their power to work in our newest, plant based tonic, Emperor’s Broth. The power lies in their ability to absorb and safely eliminate toxins. By consuming them, your body’s ability to do the same thing becomes magnified. The Reishi mushroom is known as the “Mushroom of Immortality.” The Chinese use it to create tonics they believe contribute to a long and healthy life. As for the superstar, Shiitake, it contains a beta- glucan known as lentinan. The Japanese have studied it extensively for its immune stimulating properties and its aid in treating certain types of cancers. Since medicinal mushrooms are potent immune stimulators, consider eating them regularly during cold and flu season.
There’s lots of reasons to eat sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are high in fiber, antioxidants, vitamin A and heart healthy potassium. Vitamin A is a key immune enhancing nutrient. They are also low in calories, fat and lower in sugar than the more commonly consumed, white potato. Be sure to use a healthy cooking method to compliment their nutritional value like steaming or baking them. We love making them into fries, at Cafe West Express by cutting them into 1/4 inch thick matchsticks and baking them at 450 degrees. However you choose to eat them, make sure they make it on your plate way beyond Thanksgiving.
Brussels sprouts are members of the cabbage family. They even look like mini cabbages. Both cabbage and Brussels sprouts are members of an even larger family of vegetables called, cruciferous vegetables. They are a good source of folate, potassium and bone-building vitamin K, but their biggest benefit is their ability to aid in the prevention of cancer. As a matter of fact, one of the most important dietary recommendations coming from the American Cancer Society is to include cruciferous vegetables in your diet on a regular basis. Brussels sprouts might not protect you from the common cold, but they certainly serve as a weapon against an even bigger issue in today’s society.
Fall season fruits and vegetables are plentiful. I shared with you my favorites, especially for protecting your body’s health during a vulnerable time of fighting viruses and keeping up with the holiday hustle. For the full list use this link.