How to load up on heart-healthy nutrients at your farmer’s market

One of my favorite rites of spring is browsing aisles of beautiful asparagus, radishes, herbs and lettuces, some of my favorite heart-healthy nutrients, at farmer’s markets 

This year in particular seems like a good time to celebrate our local farmers and thank them for providing for us even in crises.

Plus, it’s one of the most inspiring ways to cook more heart-healthy foods at home.

So, I’m sharing my tips on how to get the most bang for your heart at your local market…

The doctor’s tips for shopping at the farmer’s market

  • Before you go, do some homework: Some markets only allow local and/or organic products to be sold, whereas others may allow products that farmers ship in. If you’re trying to cook seasonally, stick with local farmers. This information is usually available on the market’s website.
  • Remember that many farmers follow organic practices without being officially certified as organic, which is a lengthy and expensive process. A farmer’s market is a great opportunity to talk to farmers about their growing practices!
  • To ensure you’re filling your basket with the freshest produce, look for bright colors from local vendors. Feel good about all the heart- and brain-healthy phytonutrients you’re loading up on.
  • Depending on where you live, remember that you may not be able to shop for a complete meal at a farmer’s market this early in the season. The trick is to make your fresh produce the star of a meal. Get inspired with recipes that showcase spring ingredients.
  • A few heart-healthy spring standouts to look for: asparagus is rich in potassium, which could help lower blood pressure. Avocados are rich in poly- and mono-unsaturated fats — a combo that’s been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol. Artichokes have a ton of fiber, plus luteolin, an antioxidant known for its cholesterol-lowering powers. And radishes contain potassium, calcium and nitrates, which may help improve blood flow.
  • Think about how you’ll incorporate your bounty into your weekly meal plan — and shop on a week when you have time to cook! 
  • And if you want to incorporate Step One into your cooking adventures, consider using Anytime Sprinkles as the base of your basil pesto, or mix it with olive oil, a little Dijon mustard and plenty of chopped parsley as the topping for your slow-roasted salmon (cook salmon covered with the topping at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-25 minutes depending upon thickness) 
  • Skip the mini donut food truck. Remember, just being on the same premises as fresh produce doesn’t make it healthy!

Most importantly, bring a friend. Socializing is also good for your heart, and getting together outside is a safe antidote after a year when so many of us were isolated.

Dr. Elizabeth Klodas MD, FACC

By Dr. Elizabeth Klodas MD, FACC

"Diet is a major driver of high cholesterol, but instead of changing the food, we prescribe medications. This never seemed logical to me.” Dr. Klodas has dedicated her career to preventive cardiology. Trained at Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins, she is the founder and Chief Medical Officer for Step One Foods. Dr. Klodas is a nationally sought out speaker and has an active role at the American College of Cardiology. Her clinical interests include prevention of heart disease and non-invasive cardiac imaging and she has published dozens of scientific articles throughout her career. Dr. Klodas has been featured on CNN Health for her mission to change how heart disease is treated. An independent study performed at leading medical institutions affirmed the ability of Step One Foods to deliver measurable and meaningful cholesterol-reduction benefits in the real world. The results of the trial were presented at the 2018 American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions. Dr. Klodas has also authored a book for patients, "Slay the Giant: The Power of Prevention in Defeating Heart Disease," and served as founding Editor-in-Chief of the patient education effort of the American College of Cardiology. In addition to her practice and her duties at Step One Foods, she also serves as medical editor for webMD.