Harvest the Benefits: 4 Fall Foods to Optimize Your Biomarkers

By Katie Mark Oct 29, 2014

The prevalence of farmers' markets in the fall means greater access to delicious, healthful, and affordable produce. The bright colors and soft textures will help bring out the best in your fall recipes. Check out the following foods to maximize your most important biomarkers for optimal health this fall.fall_foods_image_sized

1) Pumpkin

Of course, when we think of fall, pumpkin always comes to mind. A 1-cup serving of pumpkin puree, at a mere 80 calories, contains a high density of nutrients. A serving will provide 400 mg of the 4,700 mg potassium we need daily, which is vital to maintaining our nervous system, cardiovascular system, muscle contractions and macronutrient metabolism. Pumpkin is also quite inexpensive.

The zinc found in one serving of pumpkin will supply you with 45% of the daily value (DV) you need for protein synthesis and a strong immune system. Zinc is found in your white blood cells, where it stimulates white blood cell activity and helps alleviate colds and infections.

Purchasing a whole pumpkin isn't only for decor, either. Scooping out pumpkin seeds will get you plenty of fiber, mono-unsaturated fatty acids (the good fat) and no cholesterol. A 1-ounce serving of pumpkin seeds will cost you 125 calories. The protein-dense seeds also serve as a good source of iron to help increase hemoglobin levels.           

2) Pear

A medium-sized pear contains 100 calories and healthy doses of fiber, potassium and folate. As long as you eat the skin (where fiber and other nutrients are found), the 6 grams of fiber will help lower cholesterol levels and maintain blood sugar. The type of fiber found in the skin is pectin, a water-soluble fiber that is less likely than other fiber-containing fruits to produce any adverse effects.

A medium-sized pear supplies 210 mg of potassium. Potassium maintains our blood pressure by relaxing the walls of blood vessels and opposing the effects of sodium by promoting sodium excretion in the urine. Be sure to take advantages of pears to reduce your blood pressure and sodium levels.

The 10 to 20 mg of folic acid contribute about 5% of the RDA for folate, the natural form of folic acid. This B-vitamin is critical to a healthful pregnancy so that birth defects, such as neural tube defects, are avoided. Pears make a great choice for those on a prenatal diet this fall.

Make sure to select fresh pears as opposed to canned pears, which are often preserved in sugary syrup. Pears in their natural form will provide enough natural sugar to give you increased energy levels for an afternoon pick-me-up.

3) Sweet Potato

A sweet potato is a powerhouse for potassium, chromium, vitamin B6 and vitamin E. A medium-sized sweet potato (5 oz with skin; 5" long), will provide 100 calories and over 500 mg of potassium. A serving provides enough chromium to aid insulin by increasing glucose uptake into our cells.

The vitamin B6 helps reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Vitamin B6 helps break down the amino acid homocysteine, a substance that, at high levels, hardens arteries and blood vessels. Vitamin B6, also in conjunction with folate and vitamin B12, helps decrease this risk for CVD. The folate from pears and vitamin B6 from sweet potatoes would be a great fall mash-up recipe.

Even more, vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that maintains your arterial walls, prevents oxidation of the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, or the "bad" cholesterol, and prevents blood platelets from blocking your arteries.

4) Apple

‘Tis the season for apple picking. With over 2,500 different types of apples harvested in the United States, they all provide fiber and antioxidants. A medium-sized apple at 95 calories yields 4 grams of fiber and antioxidants that lower your risk for CVD. An apple is a great tool to lower your LDL cholesterol. A particular antioxidant of interest is quercetin. This antioxidant inhibits LDL formation and helps the body eliminate free radicals. So to keep the doctor away...

Get in-season and pick up these powerhouse fall staples. Put these foods to the test by using InsideTracker to see for yourself if they optimize your biomarkers.

 

                   
   
           

 

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