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6 In-Season Vegetables That Improve Sleep, Sharpen Focus, Boost Gut Health, and More

Sometimes, the stress of fall season can leave us feeling overworked, fatigued, and not quite like ourselves. It’s time to revitalize with fall vegetables! Feel your best with these in-season picks.

Find delicious healing with this fatigue fighter.

When you’re feeling weary, serving up broccoli could heighten your energy by 50 percent for three hours. According to Yale University researchers, this flavorful veggie is packed with phenolic compounds, which help brain and muscle cells soak up and burn glucose and fatty acids for fuel.

Deepen sleep with these colorful fall vegetables.

If fall busyness has disrupted your sleep cycle, winter squash can help! University of Connecticut scientists say squash nutrients (lutein and zeaxanthin) combine with its plant sugars to prompt the release of relaxing alpha brain waves and sleep-inducing melatonin. Enjoying 1 cup with dinner can help you drift off 20 minutes faster and wake up feeling 50 percent more rested.

Enhance focus with these crunchy florets.

Adding 1 cup of cauliflower to your daily diet could boost memory, focus and concentration by 25 percent, say U.K. researchers, who credit the veggie’s glucosinolates with increasing the brain’s production of the energizing neuro-transmitter acetylcholine.

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

Soothe your GI tract with this bright veggie.

The anti-inflammatory pigments that give bell peppers their rich, cheery colors (carotenoids) tamp down digestive tract inflammation and boost digestive enzyme release, cutting the risk of gas, bloat and stomachaches in half if you eat 1 cup daily, Norwegian researchers say.

Tip: Red peppers are simply green peppers that have fully ripened, so their flavor is sweeter with none of green pepper’s bitterness.

Tame tension with an orange treat.

A sweet way to de-stress: Add 2 1/2 cups of pumpkin to your weekly meals. UCLA researchers say its pigments soothe the brain’s anxiety center and boost the nervous system’s production of the antidepressant hormone serotonin, helping you stay 45 percent more calm and clearheaded.

Looking for a quick way to add it to a meal? Try stirring pumpkin puree into warm oatmeal and top with cinnamon and maple syrup — yum!

End aches with this leafy green.

Great news from Australian scientists: Enjoying 1/2 cup of cooked spinach (or 1 cup raw) daily could cut your aches and pains by 45 percent, plus help you heal in half the time if you’ve strained a muscle or joint. Thanks go to this superfood’s healing compounds – glucuronide and ALA.

Wondering how to store this tasty green? To keep spinach fresh for a full week, refrigerate it unwashed in a paper towel–lined container.

This article originally appeared in our print magazineFirst for Women. 

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