Local farmers markets are sprouting up all over the place which means you probably have more access to locally-grown fruits and vegetables now than ever before. But if you are new to shopping at a farmers market, your first visit can be a bit overwhelming. Here's a helpful guide from Maxine Barish-Wreden, MD, ABIHM, Medical Director of Sutter Health Institute for Health & Healing in Sacramento about choosing the healthiest foods at your local farmers market.
- Salad greens — Choose red, red-brown, purple or dark green loose leaf greens for your salad – these have the most nutrients including antioxidants. Pale lettuces like iceberg that form a tight head are the least nutritious. Include other leafy veggies like arugula, radicchio, endive and spinach in your salads – these are also high in phytochemicals.
- Garlic and onions (allium family) — Eat plenty of garlic, onions, shallots, leeks, scallions and chives. Eat the green part as well as the white part.
- Kale, a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, is most nutritious when eaten raw; it may help to slow the growth of cancer.
- Look for deep yellow, red, blue, black or purple corn — The darker colors contain more phytochemicals and less sugar than pale yellow or white corn. Look for organic corn to minimize exposure to pesticide residues.
- Choose potatoes with dark skins and dark flesh — These have more phytonutrients than light skinned potatoes, and are also less likely to raise your blood sugar. Be sure to eat the skin which contains about half of all the antioxidants in the potato.
- Eat beets and beet greens — They are high in phytonutrients that may reduce the risk of cancer; they may also help to lower blood pressure.
- Certain apple varieties are much more nutritious than others; these include Braeburn, Gala, Discovery, Fuji, Cortland, Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Liberty and Red Delicious. If buying red apples, choose the reddest ones you can find – the red color is an indicator of nutrient content. Less nutritious apples include Golden Delicious and Pink Lady.
- Eat more berries, especially blueberries and blackberries – they are rich in antioxidants and fiber and can help to reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
At Sutter Health, we are happy to sponsor a few local farmers markets so our community continues to have access to locally-grown, fresh and organic produce. We proud to support our local farming community and encourage you to visit one near you. To learn more about choosing the most nutritious fruits and veggies at the farmers market or in grocery stores, try the book “Eating on the Wild Side" by Jo Robinson.