Garden View: Celebrate National Nutrition Month at the farmers market

Foods high in dietary fiber have been shown to be most beneficial to our digestive systems and helpful in preventing colon cancer and other digestive orders. (Courtesy photo)

BARBARA STORZ | SPECIAL TO MONITOR

March is National Nutrition Month and the Growing Growers Farmers Market is celebrating in a special way. In the last few years, researchers have shown there is a direct relationship between diet and health and that many diseases, including diabetes, heart disease and some cancers, can be prevented by eating a plant focused diet.

Foods high in dietary fiber have been shown to be most beneficial to our digestive systems and helpful in preventing colon cancer and other digestive disorders. Beans, peas and lentils are among some of the highest fiber foods, along with turnips, kohlrabi, sugar snap peas, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and sweet potatoes. Beets, carrots, cauliflower and broccoli, as well as, okra are all high in natural fiber, as are sprouts, collard greens, Swiss chard and kale.

In the fruit category, avocado, papaya, mango, plums, pears, apples, apricots, figs and berries are all high in natural dietary fiber. And, best of all, these fruits also contain many other important vitamins and nutritional benefits that protect our health.

Most fruits and vegetables can be consumed either raw or steamed cooked without decreasing the amount of fiber. The normal recommendation for dietary fiber is 25 grams per day; however, studies show that most of us get only 13 to 15 grams a day. This is not enough to protect our health. When doctors or dietitians recommend a high fiber diet, they usually increase the daily amount of fiber up to 38 grams per day. The benefit of a high fiber diet, coupled with drinking at least two quarts of water per day, and paired with regular exercise, go a long way to protecting our health.

In South Texas, most all of these fiber-rich vegetables are at the peak of their harvest season and are available at the farmers market.

The Growing Growers Farmers Market is celebrating National Nutrition Month with a series of cooking classes. Today’s class begins at 10 a.m. with Chef Lupita Salazar of Prasad Foods. She will show us how to take vegetables to the center of the plate. Most of us think of vegetables as natural side dishes, and Salazar is going to show us how to tweak our thinking to consider an all-vegetable meal.

Along with the class by Salazar, there is a broad selection of high fiber vegetables at the market, as well as grass-fed beef, gluten-free baked goods, Keto-friendly baked goods, Greek olive oil, Italian vinegars, eggs (Chicken, Duck and Quail), jams, jellies, and pickles. There are also natural skin care products.

The market is open from 9 a.m. until noon every Saturday in Firemen’s Park on the corner of Business 83 and 1st Street in McAllen.

Barbara Storz is a local horticulturist. You can listen to her garden show at 7 a.m. Saturday on 710 KURV Radio, or email her at bstorz@rcommunications.com.