Hello Beautiful Fall (and all of it's amazing health benefits)

Say goodbye to summer heat and hello to cooler weather with a side of pumpkin everything. With fall here, it has never been a more perfect opportunity to take advantage of the cooling weather and the related health benefits. For some fall means leggings and boots season, but it is important to see past the pumpkin spice lattes and learn about some of the unknown health benefits as well…

Did you know that fall foods and spices bring a ton of health benefits?

Studies have shown that the scent of cinnamon can sharpen people’s minds. Cinnamon is one of the most diverse and delicious spices. In addition to keeping minds sharp, it is also linked to lowering blood sugar levels, reducing heart disease risk factors, and has a plethora of other impressive health benefits. Fun tip: try dashing some cinnamon in your morning coffee for a soothing aroma. Not a fan of cinnamon? Don’t fret, there are also seasonal foods and spices that can hopefully accommodate your taste buds.

Pumpkin is often a telltale sign that fall is in full swing. Not only is pumpkin possibly the most decision vegetable ever, it has a ton of health benefits! Pumpkin benefits could warrant its own blog post (so stay tuned) but here is a quick snap shot of the benefits of pumpkin.

A cup of pumpkin contains almost twice the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which supports good vision. It has also been found to slow the decline of retinal function in those with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease that can lead to blindness. Another fun bonus: Vitamin A also helps form and maintain healthy skin, teeth and bones.
Pumpkins are also rich in tryptophan (the same amino acid that contributes to post-Thanksgiving snoozes). Not only do pumpkin seeds promote better sleep, the serotonin will improve your mood so it’s safe to say we could all use a little more pumpkin in our lives.

Opening a window can boost your sleep.

Living in Chicago, we can all agree on one thing…sleeping in the humid heat of summer is miserable. Often, it can take longer for your body to get comfortable and fall asleep in the heat. According to a study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, “healthy men who slept in a room set at a temperature of 66 degrees ended up increasing their stores of “brown fat” — a metabolically active type of good fat that helps the body get rid of excess blood sugar and burn calories. But if 66 proves to be a little chilly for your liking, you can try adjusting your thermostat down just a little so you’re more comfortable. Even small adjustments to a cooler temperature can provide benefits while you sleep.”

Apple Picking & Pumpkin Patches are fun for all!

Spending time with family, being outdoors to enjoy the gorgeous weather, AND having the freedom to eat an apple (or three) is a triple win. Along with the benefits of walking around and getting your blood flowing, you can also reap the benefits apples offer. Apples are rich in antioxidants, flavonoids, and dietary fiber. The nutrients and antioxidants in apples can help reduce the risk of developing cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. Apples have also been linked to improving neurological health, preventing dementia, lowering levels of bad cholesterol, and obesity.

Additionally, nothing truly embraces fall quite like a well carved or decorated pumpkin. If you’re feeling the itch to get your pumpkin hunt on, remember to save your pumpkin seeds. That’s right, save the seeds. Have you ever had baked pumpkin seeds? Not only are they a delightful snack, they’re jammed pack with nutrients and have a plethora of health benefits. Pumpkin seeds contain fatty acids, vitamin B2 (aka riboflavin), folate, seed oil, and are excessively rich in antioxidants. Pumpkin seeds have been shown to help overall heart health, prostate health, and protection against certain cancers (breast, lung, and prostate just to name a few).

So, turn off the TV and head outside to enjoy some of the beautiful (and healthy) benefits of fall!