You know that eating good makes you feel good, but filling your plate with a rainbow of veggies can also help boost your health.
Fortunately, we’re lucky to have plenty of local veggies here in Colorado. The next time you make a trip to your local farmers’ market, fill your reusable produce bags with these 4 health-boosting vegetables from Western Colorado.
In 2002, Cornell researchers discovered that cooking sweet corn increases its ability to fight cancer and heart disease. That’s because cooking those cobs releases a compound called ferulic acid, which studies have found to help in the battle against some cancers.
Here in Colorado, we’re lucky to have an abundance of Olathe sweet corn to fill our plates. Look for it in farmer’s markets and local produce stands during the end of July and beginning of August, when the harvest season is in full swing.
Cruciferous veggies of all varieties like kale, cabbage, and cauliflower are filled with immune-boosting compounds, but broccoli is chock full of something called sulforaphane. This “particularly potent compound” helps “[boost] the body's protective enzymes and flushes out cancer-causing chemicals.”
When researchers from the University of Michigan studied sulforaphane’s impact on mice they also found that the compound targets cancer stem cells, which are responsible for tumor growth.
Broccoli is a cold-season veggie, but warm-weather varieties are becoming more common. In Colorado, look for farm-fresh broccoli during June, July, August, September, and early October.
Carrots are another easy-to-love superfood chock full of illness-fighting nutrients. Beta-carotene is the superstar antioxidant found in carrots — scientists suspect it helps slow cancerous cell growth and protects your cell membranes from toxin damage. Carrots also contain a host of additional vitamins and phytochemicals believed to protect your body from specific types of cancer such as breast, mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, stomach, and cervical cancer.
Perhaps surprisingly, cooked carrots provide your body with more antioxidants than raw carrots. Depending on the conditions of the growing season, you can find local Colorado carrots as early as August and as late as November.
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, beets are full of folate, a B vitamin that helps produce and repair DNA. Scientists also believe beets can be an integral part of an “anti-cancer arsenal” due to compounds known as betalains, which produce the lovely red color and may, “inhibit carcinogen formation and increase production of immune cells and body enzymes that help fight cancer development.”
Sugar beets have been grown in Colorado for a long time, too. The first sugar beet processing factory in the state was built in Grand Junction in 1899. By the early 1900s, factories could be found throughout Colorado, and they greatly contributed to urban growth and agricultural diversification. Fill your plate with fresh, local beets from early July through September.