The beginning of summer is a wonderful time to get out and enjoy the many happenings in and around the Pittsburgh area. From Pirate games at PNC Park, outdoor concerts at Hartwood Acres, walking or biking in one of the many parks, like South Park, North Park or Schenley to simply shopping or having lunch at one of the many venues in the Strip District, there are so many fun ways to stay active and fit while passing the time.
Another great way to pass the time, and to incorporate healthy foods into our day, is to visit one of the many Farmer’s Markets now open all around the Pittsburgh area. Local area farmers are setting up shop and are now open for your enjoyment! Farm-fresh vegetables and fruits are not only delicious, but a great way to help boost the fiber in our diets!
Many of us have heard of the importance of a “high fiber” diet; but what IS fiber? Where does it come from? And what are the health benefits?
Fiber is basically a carbohydrate that cannot be digested. It is found in all plant foods including fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes.
All fiber is not alike, however. Generally, it is categorized as either soluble or insoluble, which means how easily it dissolves in water. Soluble fiber delays stomach emptying, which makes us feel full longer; insoluble fiber accelerates food through the digestive system. Both aid in weight loss!
Fiber provides many healthy benefits as well as disease prevention. A diet high in cereal fiber (found in grains) has been linked to reducing the risk of heart disease, prevention of diverticulitis and possibly reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Currently, the recommendation for fiber intake is 25-35 grams per day. If you are not consuming this amount, add fiber slowly. Adding too much too quickly tends to caused abdominal discomfort.
Some sources of soluble fiber include legumes (peas, beans & lentils) apples, pears, strawberries, blueberries, nuts and seeds. Sources of insoluble fiber would include whole grain breads and cereals, barley, brown rice, bulgur, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, celery and tomatoes.
So, take a stroll through Pittsburgh’s North Side, or while you are hanging in the South Side, visit the local Farmer’s Markets……. I’ll bet you didn’t realize that helping your local farmers by purchasing their fresh vegetables would also be helping yourself live a more active and healthy life!
To find a Farmer’s Market near you, visit www.city.pittsburgh.pa.us/parks/farmers_market.htm or the Post Gazette’s site at www.post-gazette.com/pg/09134/969823-34.stm