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Farmers Market Shopping Tips

Summer is here! Farms and produce stands are bursting with delicious varieties of fruits and vegetables. Use these tips from the dietitians in the Weight and Wellness Center at Tufts Medical Center to successfully navigate your farmers market and leave with a bounty of nutritious options. You can view local farmers markets on the City of Boston website >

Fill up your bag with FIBER to shrink your waistline

Farmers markets are full of fresh produce including high fiber fruits and vegetables. Foods with fiber are great for weight loss because they fill you up without adding lots of calories to your meal. Grab some lettuce and add a salad to your dinner to take advantage of the benefits of fiber!

Shop the rainbow

The different colors in fruits and vegetables indicate different phytonutrients in that food. Phytonutrients provide flavor and act as an antioxidant, which can reduce cell damage and prevent cancer. If your shopping bag has many colors, then you are getting a healthy variety of phytonutrients for optimal health. See the list below to match your food with its color and phytonutrients.

  • RED: contains lycopene, quercetin, and hesperidin, which can reduce the risk of prostate cancer, lower blood pressure, and scavenge harmful free radicals. Examples include: apples, watermelon, red peppers, radishes, and strawberries.
  • GREEN: contains chlorophyll, zeaxanthin, lutein, and beta-carotene which inhibit the action of carcinogens (substances that can lead to cancer). Examples include: green peppers, dark leafy greens, spinach, broccoli, watercress.
  • YELLOW: contains lutein and zeaxanthin which reduce the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration—the leading cause of vision loss. Examples include: yellow squash, pineapple, banana and lemon.
  • ORANGE: contains beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, lycopene, and flavenoids which lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration, fight harmful free radicals, and repair damaged DNA. Examples include: orange pepper, cantaloupe, carrots and sweet potatoes.
  • PURPLE/BLUE: contains anthocyanins and phenolics which are powerful antioxidants that reduce the risk of cancers, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. Examples include: eggplant, blackberries, red onion, red cabbage, grapes, and figs.
  • WHITE: Don’t forget about the white vegetables! Cauliflower, mushrooms and onions contain beta-glucans, flavenoids that strengthen our killer T and B cells that support our immunity against disease.

Let your tastebuds explore new flavors

There are lots of different varieties of fruits and vegetables to expand your palate at the farmers market. Challenge yourself to try a new food such as kohlrabi, bok choy, ground cherries, dandelion greens, or beets. If you don’t know how to prepare it, ask the farmer! They are very willing to share their recipes for the delicious food they grow.

Be creative with preparation

Have you heard of “zoodles” (zucchini noodles)? What about “cauliflower rice?” These are alternative ways to prepare and cook common foods sold at farmers markets. Again, ask your farmer how they prepare their vegetables and you could get some new, exciting recipes for your kitchen! Check out our recipes for zucchini noodles and cauliflower rice.

Add steps while you browse

Use the Farmers market as a place to exercise! Take a couple of extra laps around the stalls to help meet your physical activity goals.

To schedule an appointment with a registered dietitian and learn more about healthy eating, call 617-636-6086.