7 Fall Foods for Healthy Bones

Pumpkin

Pumpkin is an often-overlooked source of fiber and bone-healthy nutrients. With 3 grams of fiber per one-cup serving, and only 49 calories, it can keep you feeling full for longer on fewer calories. Pumpkin seeds especially are a potent source of many bone-healthy vitamins and minerals including magnesium, zinc, phosphorous, manganese, potassium, iron and copper. All of these contribute to immunity, heart health and bone health. A handful of pumpkin seeds each day can provide up to 75% of your RDA.

Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes owe their bright orange color to their high content of the antioxidant beta-carotene, which the body converts into Vitamin A. Antioxidants protect against bone loss by eliminating free radicals that may cause stem cells to turn into fat cells instead of osteoblasts, causing bone loss and risk for osteoporosis. Sweet potatoes are also rich in bone-healthy nutrients vitamin C, and magnesium - which we don’t get enough of from diet and require supplementation.

Butternut Squash

There are lots of winter squash varieties, but butternut is beneficial because it is low in fat and delivers an ample dose of dietary fiber - making it an exceptionally heart-friendly choice. It also provides significant amounts of bone-healthy potassium - 2.5 percent of the recommended daily intake of potassium, compared to only 1 percent in pasta, making it a great swap. Most people get enough potassium from diet and usually don’t require a supplement for bone health when they eat a diverse diet.

Apples

A flavonoid found exclusively in apples called phloridzin may protect postmenopausal women from osteoporosis by improving inflammation markers and increasing bone density.  The unique combination of antioxidants plus bone-building minerals is what really makes the apple a bone healthy powerhouse. They contain Vitamin C, which is essential for the production of collagen - which supports bone; and boron, which has been shown to increase the body’s ability to absorb magnesium, and studies link boron to increased bone mineral metabolism. The apples said to have the greatest polyphenols and flavonoids are Rome Beauty, Cortland, Golden Delicious, Fuji apples and Red Delicious.

Cheese

All cheese is a rich source of calcium, but Swiss and Parmesan have the highest amount, close to 30%. Cheese, especially that made from the milk of grass-pastured animals, is an excellent source of several other important bone-healthy nutrients. One of the most valuable for bones is vitamin K2, which the latest scientific studies indicate is extremely important for bone strength. Vitamin K2 helps make bone tough by activating proteins that hold calcium crystals together. Even though it can be high in calories and saturated fat there are still ways to enjoy cheese as part of a bone healthy diet this season.

Turkey

A 5-ounce serving of turkey provides almost half of the recommended daily allowance of folic acid, and is a good source of B vitamins, zinc and potassium. Turkey also contains L-arginine. Arginine helps arteries relax and improves blood flow, which is important for bone health because during the process to build bone, your body requires a constant influx of nutrients, and a healthy blood flow is one of the means of keeping this influx moving. L-arginine slowly releases nitric oxide to help bone formation along. In fact, people with low levels of nitric oxide have poor bone quality from problems at the molecular level.

Cranberry

Cranberries have vitamin C and fiber, and are only 45 calories per cup. In disease-fighting antioxidants, cranberries outrank nearly every fruit and vegetable--including strawberries, spinach, broccoli, red grapes, apples, raspberries, and cherries. Several groups of researchers have summarized their health benefit findings by pointing out that it is the synergy among cranberry nutrients (rather than individual cranberry components) that is responsible for cranberry's health benefits – so you’re best to cook with them whole (not dried or extracted).  In fall and winter you can buy cranberries fresh and store them for almost 2 months.

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