As spring flowers start to bloom, farmers market season kicks off across the country. Whether it’s just a few stalls or a major marketplace, it’s the perfect place to find in-season fruit and veggies that are as delicious as they are healthy.
Fresh produce can help you fill up with fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals. As a bonus, they’re low in calories.
And considering there is usually little processed food at a farmers market, just about everything there is good for you. So consider your shopping bag a powerful tool for managing your weight, controlling your blood pressure, and even lowering your heart disease and cancer risk.
Buy spring or summer favorites like broccoli, corn, cucumbers, string beans, scallions and tomatoes on your next trip. And try a few new ones, too. Add these tasty, non-starchy options to any meal to boost nutrition (and flavor):
- Cabbage. Made up of 92 percent water, this leafy vegetable still packs in plenty of vitamin C. In fact, one serving of green cabbage (only three ounces) provides 70 percent of the vitamin C you need each day. Before cutting or cooking a head of cabbage, remove its outer leaves. Cabbage is also pretty inexpensive and stays good for a long time.
- Eggplant. Not only is eggplant fat-free, cholesterol-free and sodium-free, it’s also a good source of dietary fiber. Keep the deep-purple skin on to get the most nutrients. When making stir-fry or another dish, add this and other hard veggies early on so they cook all the way through.
- Jalapeño Peppers. These hot peppers offer vitamins A and C, as well as folate. And capsaicin, the compound that makes them spicy, is well-known for its numerous health benefits. It can provide pain relief, aid in weight loss, and help treat arthritis and other health problems. To make peppers less hot, take the seeds out before adding fresh, sautéed or roasted pieces to your food.
- Kohlrabi. This pale green bulb of a vegetable can look and sound intimidating. But it’s not hard to enjoy. It can be eaten raw after being peeled and sliced or slightly poached in a bit of salt and butter. It’s very high in vitamins, minerals and fiber.
- Asparagus. This leafy vegetable comes in lots of colors, like white, green and purple. It pairs well with other vegetables and starches, like peas and potatoes. One cup of cooked asparagus has plenty of nutrients and fiber but is only 40 calories. Finally, asparagus has a distinctive, slightly bitter taste that may just grow on you.
Visiting a farmers market isn’t only good for your body. It’s also a chance to get to know the people who make your food in your local community. They can often tell you what fertilizers or pesticides they use and answer other questions.
A farmers market also supports your local, family-owned farms and local economy.
But remember that the fruits and vegetables you buy at a farmers market may have a shorter shelf life than supermarket produce. So only buy what you can eat in several days. But that’s just an excuse to come back again soon.
We think farmers markets are a great way to boost your mood and fuel your body while also connecting you to your local community. To learn more about the full range of our whole-health wellness care, please visit our website.
This material is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for examination, diagnosis and medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. Please consult your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment and/or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.