The growing season is well underway in our beautiful state. Local farmers are stocking their farm stands, local supermarkets and farmer’s markets with affordable locally grown produce. Fresh fruits and vegetables are not only delicious, but experts agree they are a more viable source of nutrients than vitamin supplements. Whole foods have the power to prevent disease, heal illness, and fight aging. Below is a list of a few fruits and vegetables Maine farmers are growing for you this summer.
Food Network chef Dave Lieberman calls the beet “nature’s multivitamin” for its exceptionally high nutrient content. The beet’s deep red color comes from the high level of antioxidants it contains. Many people are put off by memories of the canned beets they were forced to eat as a child, however beets are delicious roasted with olive oil, or raw in salads.
Forget goju and acai; strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are a great source of fiber and Vitamin C, and a significant source of bone building potassium, Vitamin K and manganese. Berries biggest claim to fame is their high antioxidant content. Antioxidants fight cancer and free radicals that attack a body’s cells which contributes to aging. Blueberries in particular help lower cholesterol, and improve glucose control and insulin sensitivity.
Another under-appreciated vegetable, cabbage has recently been found to contain compounds that reduce the risk of breast, prostate, stomach and lung cancers. Eating cabbage can also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and heart disease as well as heal gastrointestinal problems. Cabbage is rich in Vitamins A, C, and K, protecting joints and reducing the risk of osteoarthritis. Cabbage can be eaten raw in salads, but is also lovely in soups, and a good stir fry. When cooking cabbage, keep in mind that shorter cooking times help to maintain the cabbage’s sweet and nutty flavor.
Spinach is a cancer fighting power house containing the antioxidant equivalent of several vegetables combined. Fifteen of these antioxidants are also known to inhibit the formation of beta-amyloid plaques that contribute to Alzhemer’s. Spinach, kale and chard are the best plant based sources of calcium, ideal for those who are lactose intolerant.
The tomato is best known for its high Lycopene content helping to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Though Lycopene is not naturally produced in the body, it is necessary for the body to receive the full benefit of antioxidants. Better still, the tomato’s Lycopene content increases during the cooking process, making tomatoes a star for canning.
Now is the perfect time to take advantage of the health benefits these locally grown goodies have to offer. For more information about locally grown produce in your area, visit Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association or Get Real - Get Maine online.
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