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Together with the changing leaves, cooler temps, and the resurgence of football season, fall brings some of the most iconic images to mind and with it, some of the most delicious and nutritious foods nature has to offer. Whether you’re raking leaves with the family, tailgating with friends, or making this season’s first satisfying soup, these three foods are easy to fall for!
From a sweet Red Delicious to a tart Pink Lady, everyone has their go-to apple. But just like their vast flavor profiles and plans for how you’ll enjoy them—a quick snack, baked into an apple pie, or perhaps homemade applesauce—studies show certain cultivars of apples have higher levels of flavonoids and higher antioxidant activity than others. They include: Fuji, Red Delicious, Gala, Liberty, Braeburn, and Granny Smith. As a rule of thumb, the darker and more vibrant the color of apple, the more vitamin C, flavonoids, potassium, and boron it will have.  Overall, apples have the second highest antioxidant activity of any other commonly consumed fruit, so you really can’t go wrong with any apple you choose… just as long as it’s organic.
Why organic? Studies show that organic apples are higher in all of the good stuff, like antioxidants & vitamins, and free of the bad stuff like synthetic pesticides & GMOs. You heard that right—in 2015 the USDA approved the first genetically-modified apple; the so-called “Arctic Apple” will be available in Granny Smith and Golden Delicious varieties. Apples also rank number two on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list. When the USDA tested 700+ conventional apples for pesticide residues, 98% tested positive after they were washed. They say “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but only if it’s an organic apple!
There are many reasons to fall in love with the tiny yet mighty cranberry. Known for their versatility—cranberries are perfect in everything from baked goods and compotes to trail mixes and salads—they are lesser known for their incredible health benefits beyond urinary tract health, including boosting immunity.
The high phytonutrient content that gives cranberries their deep red color also provides them with antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. Recent studies have found that compounds in cranberries interfere with the flu virus’ ability to replicate and establish an infection, in addition to reducing the symptoms of the flu. The results of one human study found that the proliferation of a specific type of T-cell—an immune cell and first line of defense against infection—was nearly five times higher after 10 weeks of daily consumption of a cranberry beverage.      Throughout fall and well into the holiday season, protect yourself and the whole family with the power of cranberry!
Despite its name, winter squash is about as fall as you can get. For a few glorious months we’re gifted with overflowing squash bins in the produce section, offering a plethora of squash to transform into soups, pies, and roasted fall deliciousness. There are 11 varieties of winter squash to choose from—including pumpkin—and there’s nothing quite like a bowl of homemade butternut squash soup on a cool October day.
There are so many health benefits to eating these autumn-hued foods, they virtually squash the competition! They’re an excellent source of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, vitamin C, fiber, and folate. And they help stabilize blood sugar—perfect for the holiday sugar rollercoaster we’re about to embark on! According to the World’s Healthiest Foods, “… studies show that … starch-related components in winter squash have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, as well as anti-diabetic and insulin-regulating properties.”
Steam it, bake it, or purée it, there are so many ways to enjoy winter squash. It really is a food you can fall in love with and celebrate all season long!
 (Liu et al. 2001; Markowski and P!ocharski 2006; Biedrzycka and Amarowicz 2008; “ata et al. 2009)
 Weiss E, Houri-Haddad Y, et al. “Cranberry juice constituents affect influenza adhesion and infectivity.” Antiviral Res. 2005 Apr;66(1): 9-12
 Nantz MP, Rowe CA, et al. “Consumption of cranberry polyphenols enhances human T cell proliferation and reduces the number of symptoms associated with colds and influenza: a randomized, placebo-controlled intervention study.” Nutr J. 2013 Dec 13;12:161.
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