Heart Healthy Fats?

The Texas Farmer's Market

A couple of weeks ago, I spent a long weekend in southern Texas with my daughter.  We were planning a meal for a few guests so we took a trip to the farmer’s market in Waco on Saturday morning. What a treat it is to have fresh produce and to see what other parts of the country have available that we don’t have here in the upper Midwest.

Of course they have some of the same things that we do; carrots, broccoli, berries, etc. But they have some unique items too, and one in particular that really caught my eye was olive oil that was produced from olives grown in Texas. I didn’t know that we had the climate to grow olives in this country and the vendor explained that their olive farm was fairly new and so far they have had good success with their crop and the various types of olive oil that they bottle and sell. In addition to olive oil, they also bottle various flavors of balsamic vinegars. I headed back home with a bottle of Hill Country extra-virgin olive oil and a bottle of peach balsamic vinegar. What a wonderful flavor that vinegar and oil dressing provides on my salad, not to mention the healthful benefits of the monounsaturated fat. That’s right, healthy fats.

Monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil or canola oil have heart health benefits such as:

  1. Lowering blood pressure
  2. Decreasing oxidation of LDL cholesterol
  3. Reducing total and LDL cholesterol (when substituted for saturated fat)
  4. Reducing triglycerides (when substituted for carbohydrates)

Texan “Pu-KAHNS”

As we went from one stand to the next, looking at the various items for sale, I tried to keep my Minnesota accent under wraps. However, it came out pretty loud and clear when I was at the booth with the pecans as my Minnesota twang called them “PEE-cans”. I guess the proper pronunciation is “pu-KAHNS”, but I think I will probably slip back into my original pronunciation when no one corrects me or smiles when I “say it funny.”  How ever your pronounce it, the pecans were delicious, so moist and flavorful.  Pecans are a nut that also offer heart health benefits, along with almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, walnuts and peanuts. They are a good source of vitamin E and magnesium and offer protein, fiber, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and iron. I left for home with a package of fresh pecans as well.

My Texas farmer’s market experience sure makes me anxious for our summer produce season. Now if we could just get the snow to stop and the ground to warm up.  I think we are all ready for spring, farmer’s markets and the tasty treats that they bring.

By Cheryl Rude

Registered Dietitian at Avera Marshall

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