It’s officially farmer’s market season, and New Jersey growers have a lot to offer. After all, it is the Garden State. Fresh, local corn, tomatoes, strawberries and blueberries are hard to beat. But what about the more unusual items that you’ve never tried before? The following farmer’s market vegetables are often passed by, but they shouldn’t be, because they have incredible nutritional benefits.
Next time you visit your local farmer’s market, be adventurous and try one (or all) of the items below.
Kohlrabi sounds like some exotic vegetable that you could never figure out how to cook. But kohlrabi is actually closely related to many other familiar vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussels sprouts.
Because kohlrabi belongs to this family of vegetables—the cruciferous family—it’s one of the healthiest foods you can eat. Cruciferous vegetables are high in essential vitamins and minerals, and contain an impressive amount of antioxidants. Multiple studies have found that eating more cruciferous vegetables reduces one’s risk of cancer.
Is there really that much of a difference between purple carrots and orange carrots? The difference is that purple carrots contain more anthocyanins, the same antioxidants found in blueberries; that’s what gives the carrots their purple color. Purple carrots also contain Vitamin A and beta-carotene, just like orange carrots do, so you get more nutrient bang for your buck.
One Australian researcher actually did a study on the health benefits of purple carrots in mice. He fed the mice a high fat diet, driving up their blood pressure and making them pre-diabetic. When he started giving the mice purple carrot juice, their blood pressure went down, and their glucose tolerance returned to normal.
Swiss chard is a leafy green vegetable that is often used in Mediterranean cooking. It’s sometimes mistaken for spinach or dinosaur kale, but Swiss chard is unique. What’s so special about it?
Well, in addition to the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants typically found in dark green leafy vegetables, Swiss chard contains a compound called syringic acid, which helps to stabilize blood sugar. This means eating Swiss chard may be particularly beneficial for people who have diabetes or pre-diabetes.
If you’ve been paying attention thus far, you should be able to guess why blue or purple potatoes are healthier than white potatoes. That blue/purple color indicates the presence of anthocyanins, the powerful antioxidants which can fight cancer.
Despite their blue color, blue potatoes do not taste like blueberries. In fact, they taste just like ordinary white potatoes. With the same flavor, but more antioxidants, why wouldn’t you want to give blue potatoes a try?
Burdock root is a staple in Japanese cooking, and it has also been used as an herbal remedy to detoxify the blood and treat many skin conditions. The plant is native to Asia and Europe, but it can also be cultivated in the Northeast region of the United States.
Little research has been done on the health benefits of eating burdock root, but if burdock is available at your local farmer’s market, you should at least give it a try. Even if burdock does not help detoxify your body, at least you’ll have a tasty addition to your next meal.
When you were a kid, your parents probably encouraged you to try new foods. Why you should you stop being adventurous now that you’re an adult? Pick up a new veggie on your next trip to the farmer’s market, and you might just discover a new favorite.
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- pilipphoto / Adobe Stock
- Frankix / Adobe Stock