Harvest season in Illinois is right around the corner, and HSHS St. John’s Hospital wants you to reap the health benefits of locally-produced fruits and vegetables. St. John’s is the premier sponsor of the Old Capitol Farmers Market on South 4th and East Adams Streets in downtown Springfield, IL.
Kim Luz, community outreach director at HSHS Illinois says local summer and fall foods like corn, tomatoes, pumpkins, beets, peaches and apples can help your health from head to toe. They can also stimulate the local economy and support job growth.
“As leaders in health care, we understand sustainable health improvement occurs at the intersection of economic and community development, and access to high-quality health care,” said Luz. “The farmers market helps achieve this by increasing access to minimally processed, locally grown and nutrient-dense whole foods.”
Illinois is one of the leading states in the U.S. for pumpkin production. This fruit is low in calories and a great source of vitamin A and potassium, which can protect your skin from sun damage and lower your risk of cancer and eye disease.
Health benefits of summer harvest:
- Apples provide necessary soluble fiber which helps lower your cholesterol level, your risk of diabetes, and your risk of developing asthma. Tip: leave the skin on because it contains half the fiber of the apple.
- Beets have been linked to significant improvement in blood flow and lower blood pressure if eaten consistently.
- Corn provides valuable B vitamins such as folate, which is important during pregnancy.
- Garlic is known to boost the immune system to reduce symptoms and duration of the common cold. It also contains antioxidants that may help prevent dementia.
- Yellow Squash is low in calories and contains no cholesterol, fat and sodium. Tip: do not peel the skin – that’s where most of the nutrients are stored.
- Zucchini helps keep thyroid hormone levels stable and, thanks to its vitamin C, it can strengthen vision. It’s also versatile; it can be grilled, roasted, braised, pickled, baked, or eaten raw.
The University of Illinois Extension Service is a great resource for nutrition and wellness information.
To learn more about the Old Capitol Farmers Market, including social guidelines, visit https://www.downtownspringfield.org/old-capitol-farmers-market. The outdoor market is open from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays through October.