“Eat your fruits and vegetables.” You’ve likely heard this statement since childhood. this month, adding more produce to your diet is quite easy, as local produce is bountiful. September celebrates Fruits and Vegetables Month: when the majority of local vegetables, such as beets, carrots, eggplant, a variety of beans, leafy greens and squashes, are ready to be harvested. Orchards are also now bursting with apples, peaches, and berries ready to be picked.
This is the time to pick, purchase and preserve the harvest at its best, and there are many ways to do so. Within Boston, the Farmers Markets are full with variety of local grown produce. Many markets feature cooking demonstrations, and have very knowledgeable farmers and market managers who can offer suggestions on ways to new alternatives in preparing produce.
To find out more about more about Farmers markets check The Boston Collaborative for Food and Fitness. As part of an initiative by Mayor Thomas M. Menino to increase access to healthy foods for all families in Boston, most markets accept SNAP and have EBT capacity. At this time of year, prices at local markets are very reasonable because of the abundant harvest. Many times, the cost of produce may be equal or lower than a grocery store.
So, why is eating more fruits and vegetables important to your health? First, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables contributes to overall wellness, but multiple research studies have shown:
- Healthy diets rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.
- Fruits and vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals, fiber, and other substances that are important for good body functioning and support feeling well.
- Most fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories and are filling which support maintaining a healthy weight.
Take a look at this How to Use Fruits and Vegetables to Help Manage your Weight brochure and learn about their role in your weight management plan. Tips to cut calories by substituting fruits and vegetables are included with meal-by-meal examples. You will also find snack ideas that are 100 calories or less. With these helpful tips, you will soon be on your way to adding more fruits and vegetables into your healthy eating plan.
The list of how to prepare fruits and vegetables is endless. This month, get out, meet some neighbors at the local farmers market and celebrate September’s bounty.
Kathy Cunningham is a registered dietitian and Senior Program Manager in the Chronic Disease Prevention Division of the Boston Public Health Commission.