Garden View: Array of ways to make heart-healthy eating choices

February is National Heart Health month, and filling our plates with naturally, colorful vegetables is important for heart health. Having an array of colorful vegetables to choose from is easy in South Texas, where farmers markets offer locally produced, just harvested vegetables, in varieties not found elsewhere.

This is a perfect time to start the year off with a resolution to improve your health. Our winter vegetables are at their best right now.

Even if the 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% of the daily recommendation) of potassium in a cup of greens, which are great in a salad or stemmed slightly and served under your favorite fish. The beet root is 442 mg per cup. Swiss chard (961 mg of potassium per cup) and spinach (839 mg) are also very high in potassium. Carrots and radish are loaded with potassium, as they are also soil miners. Carrot greens make a tasty pesto. Just substitute carrot greens for basil.

Cooking reduces potassium in vegetables, so eat fresh or slightly steamed as often as possible. Kale, fennel, brussel sprouts, arugula, bok choy and Pak Choi, cabbage, and broccoli and broccoli raab (Rapini), all high in potassium, I highly recommend that you utilize them raw in salads or just slightly steamed to get the most potassium possible.

These vegetables, especially those from the cabbage family, also help reduce bad cholesterol and lower blood pressure.

Mushrooms and herbs, too, are a great way to get important nutrients.

So keep your New Year’s resolution to add vegetables to your diet every day for improved health in February and year round.

Today, at the Growing Growers Farmers Market, in Firemen’s Park, corner of First Street and Business 83, in McAllen, you will find of these vegetables, along with citrus, fresh and dried herbs and recipes to inspire your healthy journey. The market is open 9 a.m. to noon, every Saturday morning, year round.

Barbara Storz is a local horticulturist. You can email her at