|The chilly nights and shortened days are upon us! As we change out our wardrobe and put an extra blanket on at night, we also begin to crave the hearty foods of fall. Thank goodness so many of these foods are rich in vitamins, minerals and packed with powerful polyphenols that can keep our bones and our body strong and healthy through the winter months.
Poly….what? Polyphenols are phytochemicals found primarily in plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices. They provide both antioxidant activity as well as have anti-inflammatory properties making them great for your bones! It has been shown that excessive oxidative stress can contribute to bone loss that leads to the development of osteoporosis (1). Consuming antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables can improve bone mass through enhancing bone formation and suppressing bone resorption.
Gone are the juicy fruits and vegetables that keep us hydrated and cool during the summer months so bring on the rich food of the autumn harvest. Apples, pears, sweet potatoes, squash, cauliflower, pumpkin and sunflower seeds are a few of the fall’s best bone building foods.
As we fall back, this coming weekend, cherish your extra hour of sleep and then go shopping for these nutritious fall foods that can help enhance the strength and durability of your bones.
Fall for these Bone Building Foods
Apples – The gem of fall fruits is the apple! Not only are apples nature’s ultimate fast food but they also contain a polyphenol called phloridzin. Phloridzin is a flavonoid found exclusively in apples! Animal studies have shown that daily phloridzin intake prevented bone loss and improved bone quality (2). Apples are also high in vitamin C and boron, two other nutrients necessary for bone strength.
Pears – High in the minerals copper, manganese, potassium make pears a delicious way to get these minerals that can help reduce bone loss. Pears also have a modest amount of the antioxidant polyphenols that protect bones from harmful free radicals.
Cauliflower – Is an excellent source of vitamin C and K and is one of the hallmark anti-inflammatory nutrients. Cauliflower is also high in manganese, folate, and vitamins B5 and B6.
Pumpkin Seeds – Save those seeds when carving out your pumpkins. Pumpkin seeds are a very good source of the minerals phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc and iron. One-third cup of pumpkin seeds contains nearly half of the recommended daily amount of magnesium needed for bone health. Magnesium acts synergistically with calcium for proper bone formation.
Squash – Winter squashes are a nutritional jackpot! They are an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and fiber, and a good source of zinc, calcium, and manganese. Squash also provides important anti-inflammatory activity, due to the presence of omega-3 fatty acids, carotenoids like lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene.
Sweet potatoes – Loaded with antioxidant properties plus an abundant amount of vitamins A, C and B6 and minerals such as manganese, copper and potassium. The anti-oxidative and anti-inflammation properties of phytochemicals found in sweet potatoes, such as anthocyanins, may also have osteo-protective effects.
Apple and Butternut Squash Soup
(4-2 cup servings)
- 3 pounds butternut squash (about 3 pounds)
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon for oiling squash
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 medium apples, chopped
- 3 ½ cups bone broth (chicken, turkey, beef or vegetable)
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
- 1 bay leaf
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and lightly oil the flesh. Sprinkle both halves with the salt and pepper. Place the squash flesh side-down in a shallow baking dish and add 1/2 cup water. Bake until the flesh is fork-tender, about 1 hour.
- Allow the squash to cool enough to handle. Scoop out the flesh and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until it turns translucent, about 10 minutes.
- Add the squash, apples, broth, nutmeg, and bay leaf, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
- After allowing the soup to cool slightly, remove the bay leaf and purée the soup in a blender, or directly in the pot with an immersion blender, until smooth.