August is the time of year the farmers’ markets are busting at the seams with rainbows of fresh produce. Subtle wafts of peaches and cantaloupe fill my nose as I walk by, gaping at how enormous the zucchini is, while I pick up a hefty watermelon. It’s tempting to buy everything in sight. The most beautiful part of the market is it marks seasons and seasons offer up their bounties for our bodies to live by. Each season offers up superfoods full of vitamins, nutrients and a vast array of health benefits that beautify us, prevent cancer and strengthen our bodies.
I would like to highlight a few super foods that have been proven to improve your health, especially if you buy them locally, peak season and fresh! I will expand more in posts to come, but for now I will define a few terms. The word “Superfoods” according to Wikipedia is actually a marketing term. Makes sense since most all fruits and vegetables have super healthy qualities and were created to keep your body healthy and cancer free. But, hey, no big deal, healthy foods could use a marketing boost anyways with all the processed competition and it’s appealing packaging. Each “super” food is best picked in peak season. After buying the biggest cantaloupe I’ve ever seen from my local farmer’s market this week, I was at the grocery store weighing bananas and beside me were some of the smallest, most pitiful little cantaloupe. I felt bad for them. I’m sure if they hadn’t travelled from so far away, they would be fragrant, large and ripe. Poor little overpriced cantaloupe.
Today I would like to talk about three foods in particular that are currently in peak season and packed full of nutrients, health benefits and best of all, delicious flavor. Each of these foods qualify as “superfoods,” helping your body in some way shape or form to stay healthy and help prevent disease.
Juicy, fragrant and sweet, cantaloupe benefits you in the following ways:
Vitamin A: Crucial for maintaining good eye sight and preventing cataracts. Also helpful in skin regeneration.
Vitamin C: A powerful antioxidant and the main component of a good immune system, vitamin C fights disease and stimulates your white blood cells (which defend the body against infectious disease).
Hydration: The high water content in cantaloupe helps keep you hydrated which in turn improves your body’s overall functions and rejuvenates your skin.
Weight Loss: High in fiber and water content, this healthy fruit is low in calories, making it a tasty snack when you need something sweet.
The list of benefits is long and the nutrients in kale work hard at keeping your body strong and healthy. Just a few of the benefits include:
Vitamin K and Omega 3’s are some of Kale’s brain boosting nutrients which can prevent Alzheimer’s and keep you mentally sharp and alert. Vitamin K helps prevent cancer, normalizes bone health and blood clotting.
Vitamin C: Once again, builds your immune system and prevents disease.
Weight Loss: High in fiber, zero fat, low in calories.
Detox: It is an anti-inflammatory food and helps detox your body, keeping your liver healthy.
I would like to preface that fermented cabbage (Sauerkraut and Kim Chi) go even further in nutrition than raw cabbage because they pack a mega probiotic punch right to your gut (in a good way!). They are SO beneficial and break down the cabbage in such a way that it releases the vitamins, especially vitamin C, so your body can absorb the maximum quantity it offers. More on fermented foods in future posts!
More vitamin C than an orange! Who knew right? And you remember why vitamin C is good…plus it helps purify your blood, detoxify your body and prevent cancer.
Weight loss: High fiber, low in calories, full of nutrition.
Skin care: Ever notice how so many Asian countries eat cabbage and they never look their age?! Cabbage’s antioxidants, vitamin C and other wealth of nutrients help keep your skin looking young and fresh.
Vitamin K: Boosts brain and helps prevent neural degeneration.
In all this talk of Superfoods, just remember that all vegetables and fruit will benefit you in one way or another. Brain boosting, cholesterol lowering, circulation improving, mood lifting…you can’t get much better than fresh, local produce, especially if you can get it organic, with zero pesticides. Do yourself a favor this week, get to your local farmer’s market and fill your bags with tasty local produce. It will only make you feel better. 🙂
p.s. A BIG shout out to KENNY STEHR & SONS fruit and vegetable farm in Pitman, PA. One of my go-to stands when I head to the market! Visit them on Facebook and see what’s on sale weekly!