Healthful Foods Abound at Summer Farmers' Markets in Ohio

Summertime is characterized in part by an increase in physical activity-outdoor sports are a common pastime-and a decrease in the amount of clothing worn-shorts and swimsuits are weekend uniforms. These hallmarks of summertime, however, don't always bring pleasure. When they highlight and emphasize the fact that our bodies are not as healthy or fit as they could be, strenuous outdoor activities and tiny garments can lead to sadness and stress.

Of course, the more you exercise, the easier it gets. So stay active, even if the first few rows across the lake or spontaneous soccer games feel torturous. In addition to exercise, a nutrient-rich diet is a major factor in maintaining health that goes beyond the physical to encompass the mental and emotional. Eating well make you feel and look great, which help to summer truly blissful.

Thanks to the farmers' markets that pop up in virtually all communities during the summer months, eating well is also easier than ever. Take advantage of the fresh, locally grown or homemade offerings at your town's weekly farmers' market. They're usually abundant in the following:

Vitamins

Fresh fruits and vegetables are teeming with vitamins. Choose tomatoes, cantaloupe, watermelon, Swiss chard, and Brussels sprouts for good doses of Vitamin A, which aids in cell reproduction and boosts immunity. Select French beans, avocado, okra, grapes, and boysenberries for ample amounts of vitamin B1 (otherwise known as thiamine), which promotes energy.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants slow the oxidation of cells in our bodies caused by free radicals, helping to promote greater health, youthfulness, and longevity, while also preventing heart disease and cancer. They are present in all fresh produce, especially produce rich in vitamins C and E. Different colors indicate the presence different antioxidants (purple potatoes have antioxidants called anthocyanins, while orange bell peppers have a type called beta-carotene), so choose a rainbow's worth of fresh fruit and veggies to ensure you cover all the bases!

Healthful Proteins

In addition to the usual fruits and vegetables, many farmers' markets feature locally-produced meat, poultry, and dairy products that are often grass fed, free range, and organic, or at least hormone- and antibiotic-free. These make ideal sources of protein as in addition to being free from harmful additives, they are often leaner and richer in valuable omega 3s than their conventional supermarket-sold counterparts. Stock up and freeze some for the fall, winter, and spring. Don't eat meat? Look for the free-range eggs or handmade rounds of goat cheese at your local market.

Whole Grains

Chances are, one or more local bakers sells goods at your farmers' market. Seek out handcrafted bread products that are rich in whole grains like wheat, oat, millet, and rye, and abundant in seeds like sunflower, sesame, flax, or poppy. In contrast to processed, refined, preservative-laden, factory-made, supermarket-bought bread products, which the body converts to sugar, whole grain breads and pastas contain every part of the grain-germ, endosperm, and bran-not just the endosperm, making them amazing sources of energy that your body recognizes, loves, and knows how to burn with optimal efficiency.

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