The Best Health Boosting Foods to Grow

, written by Benedict Vanheems gb flag

Walnuts can help boost brain health

Freshly harvested vegetables and fruits from the garden don’t just taste better than their grocery store equivalents, they really are better. Home-grown produce is simply more nutritious, packing a healthier punch than what you can buy.

One reason for this is the no-dally speed our harvest goes from plot to plate, so it remains at its nutritional peak. Another is the generally richer soil we patiently build up through our regular additions of organic matter and natural fertilizers. Boosting soil nutrition in the more holistic way that gardeners are able to insures plants are never left wanting for the nutrients and trace elements they require, which means the plants themselves are more nutritionally dense.

Optimum Daily Portions of Fruit and Veggies

Any homegrown grub is going to be good for you. Variety counts too, so include as many different types of fruits and vegetables in your diet as you can to get the full complement of health-boosting vitamins and minerals. No further excuses needed for expanding the vegetable garden then!

“Energy-boosting
Blueberries are effective energy-boosters

Just how much fruit and veggies should you eat to promote good health? The recommended number of daily portions varies wildly from country to country, so finding a precise answer to this question is tricky. Thankfully the good folk at Imperial College London have done the reading up for us. Researchers there analyzed 95 separate studies into fruit and vegetable intake, concluding that 10 portions offer the greatest health benefit, with fruits, salads, leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables especially good at guarding against the bogeymen of heart disease, strokes and cancer.

Maintaining a healthy diet is the most effective (and cheapest!) way to safeguard your health in the long-term, while feeling great in the short-term. So if you would like to prioritize what you grow according to the health benefits provided, here are some suggestions sure to put a pep in your step.

Energy Boosters

  • Blueberries and apples: Both these fruits are high in fiber so they take longer to digest and will release their energy over a longer period.
  • Spinach: Spinach is an excellent source of iron, which helps the body to produce energy.
  • Beans: Beautiful beans are full of protein and complex carbohydrates, which means they keep you fuller for longer – and full of beans! Beans and peas are good for boosting your mood too.
  • Oranges: If you’re lucky enough to have the climate to grow oranges, you really should. They are rich in potassium, folate and, famously, vitamin C – all good news for a steady energy supply.
“Health-boosting
Kale and other cruciferous vegetables may help to improve memory function

Boosting Brain Health

  • Cruciferous vegetables: Brassicas such as broccoli and cabbage are believed to help improve memory function. Dark, leafy greens like kale are also a must for a brain boost.
  • Berries: Darker berries (like blackberries and blueberries) and cherries contain high levels of anthocyanins that are believed to improve memory.
  • Walnuts: Walnuts are ace for promoting heart health and just the job for enhancing cognitive ability too – they even look like miniature brains!

Healthy Eating

  • Leafy greens: Among the most nutritious are kale, mustards, chard, bok choy and spinach. All these antioxidant-filled leaves help to boost immunity and keep you on full form.
  • Red peppers: Red peppers are a spectacular source of vitamin C, which is great for the immune system. They’ve lots of beta-carotene as well – good news for healthy eyes and skin.
  • Garlic: If ramping up the flavor volume wasn’t enough, garlic’s also a powerhouse for general health, contributing to a strong immune system, lower blood pressure and clearer arteries.
  • Broccoli: Few vegetables boast a list of health-boosting goodies as long as broccoli’s: fiber, antioxidants and vitamins A, C and E chief among them.
  • Sunflower seeds: Cheer body and spirit with a stand of mood-lifting sunflowers. The seeds are packed with all sorts of nutrients, including vitamins B6 and E, a powerful contributor to immune system health.
“Sunflower
Sunflower seeds are beneficial for the immune system

Weight Loss Foods

  • Celery and cucumber: Both these vegetables are low in calories owing to their high water content. They will fill you up and help to keep you hydrated, so you’ll stay satisfied for longer.
  • Cruciferous vegetables: Another entry for this nutrient-rich family of vegetables whose high-fiber, non-starchy, low calorie credentials put it top of the list for anyone watching their weight.
  • Chili peppers: The heat generated by the capsaicin in chili peppers increases metabolism, which means you burn off more calories after eating them.

Remember, growing your own food offers health benefits beyond the nutritional value of what you harvest. Gentle exercise, fresh air and sunshine, plus the proven mood-enhancing impact of the soil microbes we’re exposed to – they’ll leave a long-lasting impression on mind and body.

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Garden Planning Apps

If you need help designing your vegetable garden, try our Vegetable Garden Planner (for PC & Mac) or if you'd prefer an app for your mobile or tablet device, our iPad & iPhone app Garden Plan Pro is available on the App Store here.
Garden Planning Apps and Software

Vegetable Garden Pest Warnings

Want to Receive Alerts When Pests are Heading Your Way?

If you've seen any pests or beneficial insects in your garden in the past few days please report them to The Big Bug Hunt and help create a warning system to alert you when bugs are heading your way.

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