GARDEN VIEW: Veggies for a healthy heart

BY BARBARA STORZ

February is National Heart Health Month. Filling our plates with colorful vegetables provides for heart health all year. Consuming an array of beautiful vegetables is far from a challenge in South Texas, where farmers markets offer local, freshly harvested produce.

Now is a perfect time to resolve to improve your health. Our winter vegetables are being harvested and if your doctor has ordered you to put more potassium rich foods in your diet, you have an abundance of choices.

Beet greens are exceptionally high at 1,309 mg (37 percent of the daily recommended daily value) of potassium in a cup of greens, which are great in a salad or steamed slightly and served under your favorite fish. The beetroot itself contains 442 mg per cup.

Its exceptionally high potassium content comes as no surprise, as beets, carrots and other root vegetables are very good at mining the soils for minerals. The carrot greens can be used to make a very tasty pesto, just sub them in place of the basil in your favorite pesto recipe.

Let’s compare how these numbers stack up to the banana — often heralded as the go-to potassium source. Bananas contain about 806 mg of potassium in a cup, or 23 percent of the DV.

As for vegetables high in the mineral, yams contain (1224 mg), sweet potato (855 mg), lima beans (969 mg), Swiss chard (961 mg), and spinach (839 mg).

Cooking will greatly reduce the potassium in vegetables, especially if boiled and the cooking water is discarded. So for vegetables like kale, fennel, brussels sprouts, arugula, Pak Choi, cabbage, broccoli and broccoli raab (Rapini) — all high in potassium — I highly recommend you consume them raw (in salads) or just slightly steamed in order to get the most potassium possible.

These vegetables, especially those from the cabbage family, also provide protection from cancer. So keep up with your New Year’s health resolution and add vegetables in your diet every day for wellbeing year round.

Today, the Growing Growers Farmers Market in Firemen’s Park in McAllen, located on the corner of 1st Street and Business 83, will offer most of these vegetables. And don’t overlook the citrus, fresh and dried herbs, microgreens, grassfed beef and lamb, Gulf caught shrimp, goat’s milk, artisan cheese, variety of baked goods, jams and jellies, 70 percent dark chocolate and organic, fresh roasted coffee. There are also several options for natural skin care products. The market is open 9 a.m. until noon every Saturday.

Barbara Storz is a local horticulturist. You can listen to her gardening radio show at 7 a.m. Saturdays on 710 KURV. She can be reached through email at bstorz@rcommunications.com.