There is a reason that your mother always nagged you to eat your vegetables when you were little. Vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals. However, not all vegetables are equal in nutritional value. Fresh fruits and vegetables provide better nutrition than frozen or canned fruits in most cases. However, fruits and vegetables start losing nutritional value as soon as they are picked. If you absolutely can’t get fresh produce, then frozen is the best option.
How you cook your vegetables is also important. It is counterproductive to seek out the best fresh produce and then over cook them in oil or water. The best method for maintaining the vitamins is to lightly steam or grill your vegetables. When you boil vegetables in water, your water soluble vitamins are pulled out into the cooking water. Frying does the same thing to the fat soluble vitamins.
So how do you go about getting the freshest produce possible? One way to ensure peak nutrition is to shop at your local farmers markets. When buying fruits and vegetables at their ripest you are getting the most nutrition for your money. Grocery store produce is picked while unripe in order to ship which lowers phytonutrient content. Check out this website to find a farmers market in your area.
Here are a few other tips for getting the most out of your fruits and veggies:
- Buy only what you can eat in one week.
- Don’t prepare your food until right before use. Peeling, chopping and cutting reduce nutrients.
- Look for color. The brighter the colors, the more nutrients.
Eating fresh and buying local can help to improve your overall nutrition. I personally love to go the farmers market. There is nothing like the wonderful color and flavor of fresh produce. What is your local farmer's market like? I’d love to hear about it.
Photos courtesy of www.fnec.cornell.edu and mises.org.