Pumpkins, root vegetables and other fall fare can add spice and vitality to your diet this autumn. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

Fresh, in-season produce will always be the best way to boost the nutrition in your diet.

As luck would have it, summer is not the only time of year to get your hands on fresh foods.

Here are the top superfoods of fall:

Pumpkin

A classic fall favorite, pumpkin is packed with fiber, vitamin A, potassium and selenium. Research has shown it may reduce the risk of prostate cancer and improve blood sugar control in diabetes.

And don’t forget the seeds! Pumpkin seeds are a good source of omega-3s and phytosterols, which can help lower cholesterol and aid in the fight against asthma and enlarged prostate.

Cranberries

More than just a Thanksgiving sauce, cranberries have a gift that keeps on giving. High in fiber, vitamin C and phytonutrients, cranberries help fight against cancer, heart disease and the ever-dreaded infections of the urinary tract and bladder.

Other root vegetables

There are more root vegetables than just potatoes and carrots. Try adding more variety in this category, including rutabaga, turnip and parsnips. Also high in vitamin C and fiber, rutabaga can sub in for potatoes or use a turnip for lower starch content.

Parsnips are similar to carrots without the orange. One cup of diced carrots provides more than 600 percent of the recommended daily amount for vitamin A.

How to incorporate fall superfoods

  • Roast root veggies on a sheet pan with olive oil and salt and pepper sprinkled on top
  • Make squash or root veggie soups
  • Use spaghetti squash in place of pasta
  • Add cinnamon sticks to flavor water or tea or ground cinnamon to hot cereals
  • Make a baked apple with cinnamon for a snack
  • Stuff acorn squash with meat or rice mixture and bake
  • Make your own baked potato fries, sweet or white with skins
  • Mix fresh pumpkin puree into oatmeal with cinnamon or make your own pumpkin shake with pumpkin puree, cinnamon, milk and frozen banana
  • Cook cranberries into your oatmeal, add them to a chicken salad cooked or dried, or blend them into your fruit smoothie

Apples

We all know the saying: An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Is it true? Perhaps. Apples have some great health benefits, especially if you consume the whole apple (besides the core). The peel contains almost all of the antioxidants, 2/3 of the fiber and half the vitamin C. It’s a good formula for cancer and heart disease prevention.

Potatoes and sweet potatoes

Potato, a health food? Yes, you read that correctly. Potatoes get a bad rap due to their starchiness, but when eaten in their whole form—i.e., no potato chips, loaded potatoes or french fries—they can sure pack a nutritional punch. They contain 50 percent of the daily recommendation of vitamin C and are one of the greatest sources of potassium.

Want more antioxidants? Look for a variety of colors in the skin. And be sure to grab a sweet potato for more vitamin A.

The options are endless. Make it a point to plan in these fall favorites. Your body will thank you.

Winter squash

Don’t throw in the towel yet—this is one of my fall favorites! A great variety of things can be done with acorn squash, butternut squash and spaghetti squash.

If you have a not-so-great memory of Grandma’s cooking, give it a second chance with something new. They have half the amount of starch as potatoes, and spaghetti squash has next to none. High in vitamin A, vitamin C and antioxidants, squash has been studied for its benefits in lowering inflammation, blood sugar regulation and cancer prevention.

Bonus: Cinnamon

Not necessarily in the fall produce category, cinnamon is a common fall spice that can really turn up the health and flavor factor of all the common fall superfoods. Cinnamon is very high in antioxidants and can help reduce inflammation, cholesterol levels, blood sugar and blood pressure.