Learn how these healthy fall foods can help you shed pounds.
Some of the year’s most spectacular foods crop up in the fall. Apples and squash—two of the most popular autumnal arrivals—should be in your arsenal of ingredients to help you stay trim when the weather turns cool. However, there are three others that deserve a space on your plate, too.
Here, five fall fruits and vegetables that have weight-loss benefits. Bonus: they happen to be quite delicious.
Low in calories and high in fiber (95 calories and 4 grams of fiber per medium fruit), apples are satisfying and sweet. Keep an apple stashed in your bag for an on-the-go snack all fall.
In a study from Florida State University, dried apples helped participants lose some weight. Women who ate a cup of dried apples daily for a year lost weight and lowered their cholesterol. The researchers think that antioxidants and pectin (a type of fiber) may be responsible for the benefits—and say fresh apples probably would be even more effective.
In addition, a study from Louisiana State University found that adults and children who eat apples are less likely to be obese than individuals who do not eat the fruit. Plus, people who eat an apple a day are more likely to eat more fruits and vegetables than people who skip the serving of fruit.
No doubt fall’s butternut squash is good for you: 1 cup, cooked, delivers 214 percent of the recommended daily value for vitamin A and a third of your recommended daily dose of vitamin C. As far as “starchy sides” go, squash is a calorie bargain: just 80 calories per cup. (The same amount of sweet potato will cost you 180 calories. Not that there’s anything wrong with sweet potatoes—they’re a fabulous fall food, too.)
Add pureed squash to soup: it makes soup creamy for few extra calories and no extra fat. Roast squash cubes until tender and season with your preferred spice mix. You can spiralize butternut squash noodles too, to make “boodles.” Tenderize in a hot sauce or sauté in a pan until tender and top with vegetables and cheese.
Broccoli is an evergreen dinner side, but its real season is fall and winter when the cool temps help the cruciferous vegetable turn ever so slightly sweet. Like its cousin cauliflower, broccoli is a high-fiber, lower-carbohydrate vegetable that fills you up but doesn’t deliver a load of calories. It’s a great way to walk away from a meal filling satisfied without overdoing it.
Roast broccoli florets with a little olive oil until they’re tender and just slightly crispy, and serve it as a side all fall long. Use it to “bulk up” a whole-wheat penne recipe: studies show that incorporating vegetables into a dish like pasta helps you to eat fewer calories. Why? You’re adding volume—which helps you to feel fuller—for very few calories. You can also enjoy it raw, dipped in hummus or a herby yogurt dip. A cup of broccoli (31 calories, 2.4 grams of fiber) plus 2 tablespoons of hummus (about 50 calories, 2 g fiber) is a satisfying snack for under 100 calories..
These days, this dark leafy green is sort of the icon of good health. Like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, kale is a cruciferous vegetable, packed with isothiocyanates, which amp up your body’s detoxifying power; plus, it has tons of vitamin A and loads of fiber.
Buy prewashed bagged kale to boost the speed of prep and get it onto your plate faster. It’s just as nutritious but helps you overcome the time hurdles. Turn it into a hearty salad, or bake the leaves into kale chips. For 110 calories and half the total fat of potato chips, they deliver six grams of fiber per serving. The perfect fix for crispy, salty cravings.
At 17 calories per cup—and no, that’s not a typo—cabbage pretty much counts as a “free food.” Slaw is a standard at summer picnics: shredded cabbage with carrots and broccoli stalks, dressed up with a drizzle of olive oil, lots of rice vinegar and seasoned with salt and pepper is a no-fail side.
In fall, however, this simple side is particularly awesome sautéed until silky and served with pulled pork or on chicken sandwiches. Cabbage also adds texture to a tossed salad and makes a great topping for tacos. Health bonus: Studies suggest that cabbage may help fight breast, lung, colon and other types of cancer.