The farmers market and local farms in August are a visual feast featuring juicy peaches, fresh green beans, ripe tomatoes, and sweet corn. Fresh, delicious fruit and vegetables—being celebrated during National Farmers Market Week—help prevent weight gain, reduce the risk of chronic disease, and increase energy and heart health. We should eat five or more servings daily. As part of UnidosUS’s (formerly NCLR) Comprando Rico y Sano program, community health workers—known as promotores de salud—are helping people eat more fruit and vegetables. Their nutrition education classes—or charlas—offer tips on healthy shopping at farmers markets and grocery stores.
Most of us know that fruits and vegetables are nutritious, cholesterol-free, and naturally low in fat and calories. They are also a good source of fiber which helps maintain energy levels and makes people feel full for longer periods of time with fewer calories. Fiber also plays a role in lowering cholesterol levels and keeping our digestive systems regular. Eating enough fiber is critical to help prevent weight gain or lose weight, and reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.
The Institute of Medicine says women need around 25 grams of fiber per day while men require closer to 38 grams. The Comprando Rico y Sano promotores de salud offer useful advice to help you meet these levels:
Eat dark-colored vegetables: Carrots, beets, and broccoli are fiber-rich. Choose a medium artichoke (10 grams fiber), a creamy avocado (10-13 grams fiber), a cup of collard greens and Swiss chard (four grams each), or a cup of blackberries or raspberries (eight grams).
Don’t discard the peel: Most nutrients are concentrated in the skin, including fiber, so eat the whole pear, apple, and potato to get the full benefit. This rule even applies to that white stuff on oranges under the outer layer!
Use fruits and veggies as snacks: Chomp on a carrot—Bugs Bunny’s favorite food eases hunger and makes you feel more full more than pretzel sticks ever can. Rather than grab chips or pretzels, throw together easy-to-go bags of satisfying veggies such as celery, cherry tomatoes, bell pepper strips, and cucumber rounds. Crunchy snap peas in particular offer both flavor and five grams of fiber per cup!
There are clear health benefits from visiting a farmers market and stocking up on fresh fruit and vegetables. For more information on healthy shopping and recipes, please visit Comprando Rico y Sano.