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Here's How Nutritious Your Favorite Fall Foods Really Are

It's all good for you, but some of it is better than others.

    We all know it’s a good idea to eat our fill of fresh produce, and that’s one of the best things about fall. There’s still a bounty of fresh produce and it also happens to be hearty, comforting and so often beautifully orange.

    But which fall produce is actually providing us with the best nutrition? We turned to the Center for Disease Controls and Prevention (CDC) for that. According to the CDC’s powerhouse fruits and vegetables list, we ranked 10 popular fall produce choices in order from least to most nutritious.

    The CDC determined the nutritional density of these common fall produce options by looking at how well they fulfill the average person’s daily requirement for 17 important nutrients: potassium, fiber, protein, calcium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, zinc, and vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E and K.

    They assigned each food a specific nutrient density score, on a scale of 0 to 100, that calculates to what extent 100 grams of each produce item includes the daily recommended amount of these 17 nutrients, assuming a 2,000 calorie diet. 

    Here’s what they found: 

    • 10Sweet Potato

      tashka2000 via Getty Images

      Nutrient Density Score: 10.51

      Sweet potato is an excellent source of vitamin A. Just one cup contains upwards of 200 percent of your daily recommended intake. But there are other orange hued vegetable choices to make that offer a little more. 

    • 9Leek

      dominiquelandau via Getty Images

      Nutrient Density Score: 10.69

      Leeks are a good source of manganese, vitamin B6, copper, iron, folate and vitamin C. (They're also an excellent source of flavor!)

    • 8Rutabaga

      Joff Lee via Getty Images

      Nutrient Density Score: 11.58

      Rutabagas contain high levels of manganese, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc, as well as vitamins like vitamin C, E and K.

    • 7Winter Squash

      Nungning20 via Getty Images

      Nutrient Density Score: 13.89

      Winter squash, like butternut, is a good source of fiber, potassium and vitamin A. And it makes some really good soup. 

    • 6Carrots

      Photohaiku via Getty Images

      Nutrient Density Score: 22.60

      Carrots are a good source of beta-carotene, fiber, vitamin K, potassium and antioxidants 

    • 5Cauliflower

      KucherAV via Getty Images

      Nutrient Density Score: 25.13

      Cauliflower -- the vegetable experiencing a bit of a renaissance these days -- is not only delicious, but also a great source of vitamin C.

    • 4Brussels Sprouts

      wmaster890 via Getty Images

      Nutrient Density Score: 32.23

      First, you have to learn how to properly cook Brussels sprouts and then you can eat them all the time to benefit from their extremely high vitamin K content. 

    • 3Pumpkin

      igor_kell via Getty Images

      Nutrient Density Score: 33.82

      The fiber, potassium, and vitamin C content in pumpkin are all notable. Make it into soup or turn it into pasta -- just make sure to get your fill this fall. 

    • 2Broccoli

      canyonos via Getty Images

      Nutrient Density Score: 34.89

      That's right, broccoli is a great vegetable option just like your mother always told you. It satisfies more than your daily recommended amounts of vitamins A and K. And it also has anti-inflammatory properties. Once you have the right recipes in hand, eating your fill will be easy.

    • 1Kale

      dlerick via Getty Images

      Nutrient Density Score: 49.07

      There's just no denying the health benefits of eating your dark leafy greens. Kale is not only chock-full of vitamins, it also contains omega-3 fatty acids and so many antioxidants. We should all eat a lot of kale this fall.


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    Julie R. Thomson

    Taste Senior Editor, HuffPost

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