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Women’s Fall Health Decline Is Real: Fight It With 6 Power Foods, Advise Researchers

While this autumn has been filled with gorgeous orange foliage, yummy pumpkin and apple drinks, and plenty of fall activities, it’s also a time when many women see their health decline. Cold weather combined with time indoors makes it easier to get sick and harder to focus on healthy eating and exercise. Plus, the darker evenings (hello, daylight saving time) can make just about anyone feel sad and anxious. A better diet isn’t the only solution, but it is an important piece of the puzzle that you can fix right away. To start feeling your best, try these fall vegetables for memory, energy, immunity, weight loss, and mood.

Try leeks for memory.

Leeks add a delicate oniony flavor to savory dishes, and enjoying ½ cup daily may sharpen your memory and focus in just a week, report researchers in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Credit goes to flavonoids, or plant compounds that reduce inflammation and may protect brain cells from oxidative stress. stimulate the brain’s memory center.

Munch on turnips for energy.

Feeling draggy? Try adding ¾ cup of turnips to your next meal to help your energy and stamina soar. Research in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition reveals this root veggie boasts bioactive compounds that slow carbohydrate rate absorption, heighten insulin sensitivity, and help shuttle glucose into hungry muscle and brain cells.

Toss in garlic for immunity.

Eating one garlic clove daily (raw or cooked) can cut your risk of colds, flu, and other seasonal ills — plus help you bounce back faster if you do catch a bug. So suggests research from The Journal of Immunology Research, which notes that this flavor-booster is rich in antiviral compounds and energizes germ-killing immune cells (lymphocytes). Tip: Let chopped garlic rest 10 minutes before cooking for even more protection (it may help release these active compounds).

Eat cauliflower for weight loss.

Cutting your risk of seasonal weight gain may be as easy as adding a heaping cup of cauliflower to your daily diet. A study from the journal Nutrients found that a higher intake of it (along with other veggies) correlated with weight loss. Raw cauliflower has just 25 calories per cup, plus it contains choline, a B vitamin that may help prevent fatty liver disease.

Need a few meal ideas? Toss cauliflower florets with oil, salt, and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes; toss with melted butter and hot sauce. For a sweet side, sauté cauliflower florets until crisp-tender, then toss with melted butter and brown sugar until dissolved and lightly caramelized.

Savor Brussels sprouts for a mood lift.

A delicious way to reduce your risk of blue moods, irritability and anxiety? Eat three servings of Brussels sprouts weekly. Research in the journal Annals of General Psychiatry suggests that eating more Brussels sprouts (and other fruits and veggies) is linked to better mental health. Credit goes to alpha-linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 fatty acid with potentially mood-boosting properties. Try your Brussels sprouts trimmed, halved, and roasted.

Crunch red cabbage for muscle and joint pain.

Enjoying 5 cups of red cabbage weekly can help soothe muscle and joint pain as effectively as medication. And while tart cherries were once thought to be a top source of painkilling compounds (anthocyanins), research from the journal Pharmaceuticals suggests that red cabbage contains even more. Cooking tip: Red cabbage has a peppery flavor that mellows and sweetens when the veggie is roasted, grilled or pan-fried.

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.

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