March is National Nutrition month. Being informed on the basic nutritional facts is important since our food choices affect our lives in many ways. Nutrition is an important issue in our state. Texas has also been helpful in promoting good nutrition for our citizens.

Because of the diversity of Texas’ geography, bountiful amounts of naturally grown foods that are both delicious and wholesome can be found throughout our State. Our farmers grow nutritious vegetables and fruits in our well-kept Texas soils. This enables these foods to have healthy amounts of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants our bodies need to function properly. Specific foods rich in these nutrients are broccoli, blueberries, spinach, cauliflower, tomatoes, peaches, squash, onions, tree nuts (pecans, almonds, etc.), oranges, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and many more. You can find the best times to buy these foods by visiting the Texas Produce Availability Chart.

Our meats come from our virtuous oceans, lakes, land, and farms. Chicken/eggs, beef, fish, pork, and turkey are all rich in protein and other vitamins and minerals. Along with our homegrown fruits and vegetables, these foods are unprocessed so none of the nutrients are stripped away, ensuring optimal health benefits.

There are some major ingredients and processed foods to avoid. The most prominent of these is added sugar. This product is very common in many items found at the grocery store. Foods with added sugar are often highly caloric and have harmful effects on our organs. Foods with high fructose corn syrup and other artificial sweeteners have been linked to severe health problems like obesity, cardiovascular (heart) disease and type two diabetes. These sweeteners are replaceable! Using foods like raw honey or stevia are better and are very beneficial alternatives to use in baking or iced/hot tea and coffee.

Another food group concern is artificial trans fats, also known as partially hydrogenated oils. The negative side effects of this group are raising bad cholesterol and lowering the good cholesterol. This could lead to health risks such as high blood pressure which can cause poor blood circulation in our bodies. Regular consumption of trans fats have also been shown to lead to possible diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and obesity.

Taking advantage of all the wonderful whole foods our state has to offer are beneficial in many ways. Making smarter nutritional choices can go a long way. Please visit the following for more informative nutritional information to help with these decisions Top 10 Nutrition Facts That Everyone Agrees On, The Basics of the Nutrition Facts Label, Texas Department of Agriculture Food & Nutrition Training, What’s in Food, Nutrition Value, My Food Diary and Eat Right.

If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this week’s article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office. Please always feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or issues regarding a Texas state agency, or if you would like to contact my office regarding constituent services. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).

– State Representative Todd Hunter, District 32

Rep. Hunter represents Nueces County (Part). He can be contacted at todd.hunter@house.texas.gov or at 512-463-0672