Saturday, December 7, 2013

Great snacks that are freshest in autumn.

Most foods we crave are available year round in the supermarket. We almost forget that each food has a natural harvest season, a time of year when the food is freshest, healthiest and most delicious. Autumn is that time of year for many of our favorites, and for a lot of us, that means that a trip to the farmer's market, where locally grown produce can be found, much of it varieties that are best suited for our local soil and climate. Here are a few snack items that are naturally harvested in autumn.

 Apples are one of the great fruits of autumn. They are high in potassium (as are almost all of these snacks) which aids in controlling blood pressure, calcium, iron and zinc. They boast vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, E, K, folate and niacin. The have no fat, sodium or cholesterol. An average size apple is about 95 calories.

Figs are usually found dried in stores, but they are found fresh in autumn. High in potassium, fiber, manganese, and vitamin B6. The average fig is 37 calories.

Oranges are a good source of potassium again, and a single orange provides 116% of the daily requirement for vitamin C, as well as vitamins A and B1. The orange is also a great source for fiber and calcium. Drinking orange juice provides a better and more complex source of vitamin C  than vitamin C supplements.

Grapes are terrific in aiding blood sugar balance. Potassium is here too, helping with blood pressure control. Grapes are loaded with poly-phenolic antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

Edamame is a powerhouse snack, one half cup provides 9 grams of fiber,2.5 grams of fat, 11 grams of protein, vitamin C and A, calcium, and as much iron as a 4 ounce roast chicken breast. All this and at only 120 calories.

Carrots are another food that we take for granted, but it too has a harvest season, and they are freshest in autumn. Check your farmer's markets for colorful varieties. A study in the Netherlands concluded that those who ate one quarter cup of carrots a day had a significantly lower risk of cardio vascular disease. Those who ate two or three times that did even better! Great for fiber and Vitamin K, and carrots provide more than 400% of the daily requirement for vitamin A.

Pears are a wonderful autumn fruit. This is one fruit that should be eaten with the skin on, as half of the fiber is in the skin.  They contain flavenoids that help insulin sensitivity.While all varieties have most of the beneficial flavennoids, the red pears have all. They are a good source of vitamins C and K. Pears are believed to decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes; a combination of pears and apples seems to be the best at decreasing the risk. The average pear is about 100 calories.

Pomegranates are another super food. Low in calories, high in nutrients, they provide fiber and protein, but have no fat or cholesterol. a half cup serving is about 80 calories.

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