Farmers’ Markets and Fresh Foods

Farmers Market

Farmers’ Markets & Fresh Foods: Health Benefits of Nature’s Bounty

What better way to boost your health than enjoying a diet rich in colorful, nutritious fresh fruits and vegetables? Warmer months mean your area Farmers’ Market stalls are laden with vibrant, delicious and locally grown whole, nutrient-dense foods just waiting to be enjoyed. Summer is also a perfect time for you and your family to enjoy foods grown in your own garden.

Eating a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables offers valuable health benefits:

  • Their fiber content not only keeps you full and manages normal digestion, but it also diminishes risk and effects of many diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and even some cancers.

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables offer many essential vitamins and minerals, important factors to boost your health and energy, that your body simply can’t produce on its own.

  • Eating a diet rich in whole fresh foods means you eat less calories, reducing your risk of unhealthy weight gain, a factor associated with overweightness and obesity, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

Your Capital Women’s Care team shares vital information about the benefits of incorporating fresh, whole foods into your nutrition, including types of fruits and vegetables to add to your family’s daily menu plus their nutrition values. We also provide links to the recommended daily nutritional requirements of fresh foods and serving measurements. Finally, we offer you some activities and ideas relating to how you and your family can incorporate a bounty of whole, fresh foods into your daily snacks and meals, so you enjoy their bountiful health benefits year-round.

Fresh Foods’ Superpowers

There are many healthful benefits of a daily diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables found at your local Farmers’ Markets or those grown in your own backyard.

Here are some powerhouse fruits and vegetables and their important nutritional benefits you can find at your local farmers’ market or even grow yourself:

  • Asparagus is especially high in folate, which may help prevent neural tube issues during pregnancy. One animal study indicated it may reduce oxidative stress and prevent liver and kidney damage.

  • Beans are packed with protein, folate and antioxidants that help boost heart health, reduce cancer risk and contribute to glucose metabolism. They control appetite, prevent fatty liver disease and promote good gut health.

  • Beets pack fiber, folate, and manganese into each low-calorie serving. They are also rich in nitrates, which the body converts into nitric oxide, a compound that can help dilate blood vessels and reduce blood pressure, subsequently lowering heart disease risk.

  • Blueberries are low in calories and offer phytochemicals like anthocyanins, flavanols, tannins, and resveratrol, which may help to reduce the risk of cancer and inflammation. They may help reduce Alzheimer's disease effects and general age-related changes.

  • Broccoli contains sulforaphane, a compound that may protect against cancer. It’s also loaded with vitamins and minerals and fights inflammation, a known link to chronic conditions like heart disease.

  • Carrots are especially high in beta carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. Their high antioxidant content may be linked to lower risk of certain cancers, including lung and colorectal cancer.

  • Cherries boast fiber and potassium, important for heart and gut health. Antioxidant plant compounds, anthocyanins and hydroxycinnamates, help protect against oxidative stress. A good source of serotonin, tryptophan, and melatonin, which support good mood and sleep.

  • Collard greens are rich in calcium. Eating this leafy green frequently is associated with reduced glaucoma risk, plus stomach and colorectal cancer.

  • Green peas are high in fiber, which supports digestive health. They also contain saponins, plant compounds which may have anticancer effects, including reduced tumor growth and extinguishing cancer cells.

  • Lettuce offers many nutritional properties that increase brain, vision and bone health. It may cut diabetes risk and fight cancer. It also may aid weight loss and fight inflammation.

  • Nectarines are rich in antioxidants that fight oxidative stress and may help to prevent ailments like anemia, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

  • Oranges have high vitamin C content, providing 91% of the Daily Value (DV) in a single fruit.  Plus, they have potassium, folate, thiamine (vitamin B1), fiber and plant polyphenols. Studies indicate eating whole oranges may lower inflammation, blood pressure, cholesterol and post-meal blood sugar.

  • Peaches are rich in potassium, fiber and vitamins A, C, and E, plus carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin and beta carotene. While both flesh and skin are nutritious, its skin offers higher antioxidant amounts, which can help fight free radicals.

  • Peppers benefit the digestive tract, promote heart health, reduces joint pain and even helps mitigate migraines. They also quell psoriasis, reduce cancer risk and fight viral and fungal infections.

  • Spinach tops the chart as one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables. One cup (30 grams) of raw spinach provides 16% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin A plus 120% of the DV for vitamin K — all for just 7 calories. It also boasts antioxidants, which may help reduce disease risk. One study indicates dark leafy greens like spinach are high in beta carotene and lutein, 2 antioxidants associated with decreased cancer risk. Another study suggests spinach may benefit heart health by helping reduce blood pressure.

  • Squash provides many health benefits, including boosting immunity, fighting inflammation and staving off infections.

  • Strawberries are rich in vitamin C, folate and manganese and antioxidant plant polyphenols. Their anthocyanins, ellagitannins and proanthocyanins reduce chronic disease risk. They also have a low glycemic index, meaning minimal effect on blood sugar levels.

  • Tomatoes are the major dietary source of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to many health benefits, including reduced heart disease and cancer risks. They are also a great source of vitamin C, potassium, folate and vitamin K.

  • Watermelon offers an abundant source of antioxidants, vitamins A and C, beta carotene, potassium, magnesium and lycopene, linked to lower levels of oxidative stress and inflammation. Lycopene may also decrease heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes risks. Lycopene and beta carotene may also provide minor skin protection and help skin heal faster.

You can incorporate many fruit and vegetable offerings into your weekly menu. Include a variety within healthy meals via salads. Grill or roast them as a healthy side dish to accompany a lean protein like chicken or fish. Serve a colorful fruit salad featuring freshly cut seasonal offerings as a healthy alternative to sugar- and fat-laden baked goods or ice cream. Snacks can feature fresh peppers, carrots or cucumbers paired with hummus or a just-cut apple or other whole fruit as healthier options to chips, pretzels or cookies.

Dietary Guidelines

Every 5 years, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) releases the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These evidence-based guidelines explain what we should be eating to promote long term health and reduce chronic disease risk.

The latest guidelines, released in December 2019, reflect recommendations for 2020 to 2025 to make every bite count:

  • Follow a healthy dietary pattern at every life stage. It’s never too early or too late to eat healthfully. Be sure foods meet your body’s nutritional demands, help you achieve a healthy body weight and reduce your chronic disease risk.

  • Focus on food group needs with nutrient-dense foods that stay within calorie limits, including vegetables of all types from the 5 identified subgroups: dark green; red and orange; beans, peas and lentils; starchy; and other vegetables. Use these general recommendations by age to determine daily servings of vegetables for you and your family.

  • The amount of fruit you need to eat depends on your age, sex, height, weight and level of physical activity. Use these general recommendations by age to determine daily servings of fruit. Incorporate a variety of fruits, particularly whole fruit that keeps valuable nutrient stores intact.

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women require unique guidelines given they’re providing nutrition for their baby plus themselves. Follow your Capital Women’s Care practitioner’s recommended nutrition guidelines based on your personal health and personalized pregnancy care plan.

Not sure if you’re getting the appropriate daily nutrition? Click here to see if you need to add more healthy food choices within your daily diet.

More Benefits of Healthy Foods

Not only do fresh fruits and vegetables provide you with necessary nutrition, but these natural gems also offer the additional benefit of getting outdoors.  Whether walking around the stalls of your local Farmers’ Markets or enjoying the physical activity of tending, caring and harvesting your own backyard food gardens, exploring fresh fruits and vegetables offers you and your family plentiful opportunities for boosting your health.

Here are a few additional activities you can do with your family involving fresh fruits and vegetables:

  • Create healthy meals and snacks together.

  • Grow your own fruits and vegetables, whether in a backyard garden or some pots on your patio.

  • Teach kids how to tend and weed a garden. Let them help water plants, pick weeds and harvest fruit and vegetables to pique their personal interest in healthy eating.

  • Can or freeze fresh fruits or vegetables to enjoy during upcoming colder months.

  • Talk to your local ag board to see if there are local agricultural farms that are willing to host a school or organizational field trip.

  • Organize a community garden in your neighborhood or at your child’s school or your parents’ senior living community. Participants can grow and share their bounty with fellow gardeners.

  • Explore a new fruit or vegetable and incorporate it into your family’s menu.

  • Visit a pick-your-own farm where you can select your own berries, apples, peaches, nectarines or other locally grown foods.

  • Explore your local Farmers’ Markets. Turn it into an adventure and pack a picnic of healthy food choices to fuel your day.

  • Visit area farmers’ co-ops to explore fresh food offerings.

  • Take a trip to an orchard to pick your own fresh fruit straight from the tree. Enjoy freshly picked fruit as a healthy treat upon finishing your harvest.

  • Stop by a farm stand while taking a ride out in the country and buy some fresh produce to add to your family’s meals and snacks.

Your Capital Women’s Care team of women’s health professionals is here to answer your questions or concerns regarding healthy nutrition or any women’s health issue. Our health professionals are dedicated to prioritizing you and your family’s health so you may enjoy a long quality life.

Sources:

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/vegetab...
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3649719/
https://fruitsandveggies.org/expert-advice/benefits-eating-fruits-vegeta...
https://fruitsandveggies.org/stories/top-10-reasons-to-eat-more/
https://www.eatingwell.com/article/7902170/10-health-benefits-of-eating-...
https://fruitsandveggies.org/stories/top-10-reasons-to-eat-more/
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/healthy-fruit
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/14-healthiest-vegetables-on-earth
https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/backyard-gardening-grow-your-own-foo...
https://www.unh.edu/healthyunh/blog/nutrition/2018/05/5-reasons-grow-you...
https://www.communitycare.com/News/Articles/10-Wonderful-Health-Benefits...
https://extension.msstate.edu/publications/farmers-markets-good-for-you-...
https://bkomplete.com/new-2020-2025-dietary-guidelines-plant-based-diets...
https://www.ams.usda.gov/local-food-directories/farmersmarkets
https://www.myplate.gov/eat-healthy/vegetables

Our Mission

The providers of Capital Women's Care seek the highest quality medical and ethical standard in an environment that nurtures the spirit of caring for every woman.

 

Go to top