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Fruits and vegetables produced in Illinois help keep the body and brain healthy

LITCHFIELD — Harvest season in Illinois is right around the corner, and HSHS St. Francis Hospital wants you to reap the health benefits of locally produced fruits and vegetables.

Summer and fall foods like corn, tomatoes and apples can help your health from head to toe. According to nutrition experts at HSHS St. Francis, corn is high in fiber which aids in digestion and tomatoes are a good source of antioxi- dants which may reduce the risk of heart disease. Leafy greens like spinach and broc- coli add important nutrients to grow healthy hair, fingernails and toenails.

Illinois is one of the leading states in the U.S. for pumpkin production. This fruit is low in calories and a great source of vitamin A and potassium, which can protect your skin from sun damage and lower your risk of cancer and eye disease.

Health benefits of summer harvest:

– Apples provide necessary soluble fiber which helps lower your cholesterol level, your risk of diabetes, and your risk of developing asthma. Tip: leave the skin on because it contains half the fiber of the apple.

– Beets have been linked to significant improvement in blood flow and lower blood pressure if eaten consistently.

– Corn provides valuable B vitamins such as folate, which is important during pregnan- cy.

– Garlic is known to boost the immune system to reduce symptoms and duration of the common cold. It also contains antioxidants that may help prevent dementia.

– Yellow Squash is low in calories and contains no cho- lesterol, fat and sodium. Tip: do not peel the skin that’s where most of the nutrients are stored..

– Zucchini helps keep thyroid hormone levels stable and, thanks to its vitamin C, it can strengthen vision. It’s also versatile; it can be grilled, roasted, braised, pickled, baked, or eaten raw.

The University of Illinois Extension Service is a great resource for nutrition and wellness information. Visit

/global/nutrition-and-well- ness to learn more.

For more information about HSHS St. Francis Hospital, visit

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