Even if you don’t currently have a garden at your home, there is nothing wrong with learning more about the benefits of fruits and vegetables. Having a garden is a great way to ensure you are eating healthy, beneficial, and clean produce. This month, we’re going to focus on the nutritional perks of common garden items so you will a) learn the health benefits of the items you’re growing and b) learn of healthy items to add to your garden.
Common veggies and their benefits
Broccoli: a rich source of a variety of biochemicals that are known to fight cancer; it has high amounts of potassium, which helps you maintain a healthy nervous system and promotes regular muscle growth; contains magnesium and high amounts of calcium, which help regulate blood pressure; contains high levels of vitamin K, which is great for bone health and prevention of osteoporosis. Broccoli is also helpful in repairing skin damage, aiding digestion, fighting against heart disease, and strengthening the immune system.
Spinach: high in dietary fiber, which helps with digestion, constipation, maintaining low blood sugar, and overeating; contains vitamins A and C, folic acid, and magnesium, which help control different cancers, (colon, lung, and breast) and lower blood levels of homocysteine, (a protein that damages arteries) and helps protect against heart disease; it also contains lutein, which is one of the best foods in preventing cataracts. Lutein also helps against preventable blindness and cancer.
Tomatoes: Tomatoes have high levels of lycopene, which is an essential antioxidant that helps fight against cancerous cell formation; also helps prevent heart disease, high cholesterol, macular degeneration, and night blindness. If eaten regularly, tomatoes can actually improve the texture and color of your skin and the vitamin A in tomatoes may help with improving vision.
Carrots: benefits include reduced cholesterol, prevention of heart attacks, certain cancers, strokes, diabetes, and macular degeneration due mainly to their beta carotene and fiber content. It is also a great source of vitamin A.
Bell Peppers: regardless of the color, all bell peppers contain a good dose of fiber, which helps lower cholesterol and helps prevent colon cancer. They also contain vitamin B6 and folic acid, which reduce homocysteine levels, and are abundant in vitamins A and C, which boost immunity and fight against heart disease, diabetes, emphysema, and arthritis. Red peppers specifically contain lycopene (which helps lower the risk of certain cancers) and beta-carotene (which may help with night vision).
Common fruits and their benefits
Apples: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Boron found in apples helps to strengthen bones; pectin in apples helps to lower your bad cholesterol; apples are said to help in the prevention of certain cancers (breast, colon, and liver), diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Oranges: high in fiber, vitamin C, flavonoids, and phytonutrients, which reduce the risk of heart disease and regulate high blood pressure. They are also rich in iron, vitamin B6, and calcium, which help oxygen levels, prevention of lung cancer, and a healthy structure of bones and teeth. There are many benefits of eating oranges.
Strawberries: full of antioxidants and fibers that can help reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, inflammatory diseases, and birth defects. They also contain very high levels of vitamin C, which helps to lower your blood pressure, ensure a healthy immune system, and fight against cardiovascular diseases.
If you don’t feel like you are eating as healthy as you could be, having a garden is an inexpensive, easy way to incorporate the benefits of fruits and vegetables into your regular eating patterns. No matter what kind of vegetable, fruit, or herb you decide to grow in your garden, you are bound to get something beneficial out of it besides the fresh flavor!
Tell us: what do you grow in your garden? Or what would you like to grow if you did have a garden?