Move over, pumpkin spice latte. Get over yourself, butternut squash. These three Japanese fall foods are on our radar this year, and word is that they’re filled with beauty-boosting nutritional content. Each with a unique flavor yet easy to enjoy, it’s no wonder that they’ve been catching the attention of tastebuds worldwide.
Kuri or Japanese chestnuts have long been treasured for their health properties, and their consumption dates back to prehistoric times in Japan. Nowadays, kuri are enjoyed as a seasonal snack, prized for their sweet nutty flavor and smooth creamy texture. Although most people peel off the shell when eating, we recommend partaking of the outer shell as well as inner meat to make the most of kuri’s beauty and health benefits. This is because the shell is full of antioxidant-rich tannins that can help suppress melanin production and prevent age spots. The inner meat is a good source of Vitamin C, which is known to help with collagen generation and increased skin elasticity. Kuri also has contains 4 times more fiber than lettuce, making it a gut-friendly snack that can help stabilize bowel movements and improve the quality of the skin. Although we usually try to tackle breakouts by layering product upon product, constant flare-ups and skin irritations can sometimes be a sign of a troubled digestive system and making small tweaks in your diet can often have the biggest impact.
Often overlooked in American supermarkets in favor of apples, oranges, and grapes, persimmons are one of the most popular seasonal treats in Japan. They come in two main varieties, the sweet fuyugaki and astringent shibugaki. Fuyugaki’s sweet flavor intensifies as the fruit ripens, but it can be enjoyed at any stage between firm and underripe to soft and sweet. The key to selecting these is to find ones with a vibrant reddish color and shiny elastic surface. On the other hand, shibugaki can only be eaten when they’re completely ripe, otherwise all you’ll get is a mouthful of bitterness. The trick is to cut off the stem of the shibugaki and scoop out the gel-like flesh. If that sounds like too much work, the other popular way to enjoy shibugaki is in hoshigaki or dried fruit form. Whichever type of persimmon you choose, you can be sure that it’s loaded with nutrients. Just one persimmon packs a day’s worth of Vitamin C along with one mandarin orange’s equivalent of beta-carotene. The fruit also contains 5 times more polyphenol than a stack of grapes, making it high in antioxidative properties that can help prevent age spots and dullness. Like kuri, persimmons are abundant in fiber, which helps to regulate bowel movements and keep the skin-gut connection in good shape.
Japanese kinoko or mushrooms are a low-calorie yet flavorful way to jazz up any autumn meal. They can be tossed in soups, sauteed, grilled, mixed with rice, or even enjoyed as a dry salted snack. Matsutake are gourmet kinoko that are only available once a year during autumn. They’re high in Vitamin B6, which helps to synthesize collagen and keep skin inflammation at bay, as well as Vitamin B2, which plays a role in wound healing. Even within the kinoko family, matsutake are particularly high in β-glucan, which has important anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. In skincare, β-glucan is utilized to help calm acne-prone, irritated and sensitive skin. Quite different from matsutake, shimeji mushrooms are an affordable and tasty variety, making them an everyday seasonal favorite in Japanese households. Shimeji are also a significant source of skin-supporting vitamin B, vitamin D, potassium, zinc, and copper. A great tip with Japanese kinoko is to store them in the freezer rather than the fridge, as this not only preserves the nutrients but increases the umami flavor that makes kinoko so enjoyable.