The 9 Best Foods To Eat In The Fall, According To An Expert - Exclusive

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With September in full effect, we're shifting from relishing signature barbecue meals like hot dogs and refreshing, cooling summer side dishes like pasta salad into more whole, hearty, bites in preparation for autumn. 

As temperatures plummet and holidays are on the horizon, seasonal changes are bound to happen: mind, body, and soul. After all, daylight savings is creeping up, and it's fundamental to know how the time change impacts the body. This may bring upon symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a common mood condition that occurs when the seasons change, resulting in depression and lethargy, amongst other uncomfortable emotions.

One way to cope with these changes is to slightly alter our eating habits to implement foods in season which can support our health in more ways than one. So while we may mourn our in-season summer favorites like watermelon and corn, we make room for delicious farm-to-table foods that one doctor is swearing by.

Pumpkins and produce are your nutrient-rich friends this fall

Pumpkins are the perfect fall decoration, but according to Dr. Trevor Cates, author of holistic health guidebook "Natural Beauty Reset," pumpkins are the ideal food to be included in your fall diet, and no, we're not talking about pumpkin spice lattes.

"Both pumpkin and pumpkin seeds are great to consume in fall because they're in season and pumpkin is high in beta carotene and pumpkin seeds are a nice source of zinc," Dr. Cates exclusively tells The List. "Pumpkins also promote healthy skin because of their high antioxidant content."

She also recommends bulking up on in-season foods to help support the inevitable shifts we'll go through from summer to fall, and then winter.

"Produce in season is both more nutrient-dense and more flavorful," she says. "The shifts in day length can affect how and which types of produce grow well. Even in places described as seasonless (like California), various types of produce grow best at certain times of the year because of changes in the sun's location and the duration of sunlight hours." 

Why immune-boosting foods are essential to a fall diet

Since COVID-19 has dominated our world, it doesn't mean we've forgotten about flu season and other immune-attacking infections that can impact our health. That's why naturopathic Dr. Trevor Cates suggests altering our eating habits based on the given season's climate, including fall. To help protect our bodies from bacteria, viruses, and other invasive germs that can enter our bodies, we can try to take control of our diet to give it the nutrient-rich, fulfilling foods it deserves.

"In fall, we want to consume nutritionally rich foods to support a healthy immune system," Dr. Cates explains. "Fall foods high in immune boosting nutrients such as zinc, vitamin C, vitamin A, and B vitamins include leafy greens (like collard greens and kale), bell peppers, and broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, and turnips."

Dr. Cates' claims are in direct response to her telling The List that women's serotonin levels tend to decline when the days get shorter this fall, so the more we are informed about how we can do our best to take care of ourselves with intention, the better off we can be.