The Most Effective Anti-Inflammatory Vegetables to Grow

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Broccoli and carrots

Many people suffer from aches, pains, digestive problems, and other forms of inflammation that can be treated in part by eating lots of fresh garden veggies. In study after study, high consumption of leafy greens, cabbage family crops, and most other garden vegetables is associated with reduced aggravation from inflammation, which comes in a variety of forms.

When the body senses that something is wrong, its most common response is to stage some form of inflammation to fix the problem. Sometimes the signals go wrong, and you end up with an inflammatory disorder or chronic disease that can be triggered by eating the wrong foods. Many forms of arthritis, diabetes, lupus, and even cancer are inflammatory diseases.

In a recent study from Poland, high consumption of refined grains, sweets, juices, red meat, high-fat cheese and cream, alcohol, fats except for vegetable oils, potatoes, sugar and honey, French fries, fried fish, and processed/high-fat poultry were associated with increased inflammation. Study participants who consumed more vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, raisins, pulses (beans, peas and lentils), low-fat poultry, and tea enjoyed significantly better health.

Nightshade crops
There is no scientific basis for the belief that nightshade crops trigger inflammation

Nightshade Crops and Inflammation

There are 200-year-old rumors that tomatoes, eggplant and other nightshade-family crops (Solanaceae) cause inflammation, but a meta-analysis of data has not shown this to be the case. Conversely, tomatoes and peppers have won the respect of dietitians because of their potent antioxidants. Similarly, tomatillos have been found to contain anti-inflammatory compounds similar to those found in aspirin.

With potatoes, the problem is not so much with the potatoes, but how you cook them and how often you eat them. French fries every day won’t do, but fresh new potatoes with snap peas are another matter. Potatoes are packed with vitamin C and potassium, which has anti-inflammatory properties. That said, should your body find any vegetable disagreeable, dieticians recommend eliminating it for two weeks while keeping a food journal.

Anti-inflammatory leafy greens
Leafy greens are backbone crops for an anti-inflammation garden

Plan for a Productive Anti-Inflammation Garden

The most important aspect of growing an anti-inflammation garden is planning for a long harvest season, which usually involves growing a variety of crops. Leafy greens are especially important, so you might start spring with cold-hardy spinach and arugula, grow kale, chard and beet greens for early summer, and have fun with bok choy and turnips in the fall.

Root crops like carrots, beets and rutabagas hold well in the garden, or in the refrigerator, and they are great choices for an anti-inflammation garden. In summer, tomatoes, peppers and snap beans can fill your table with anti-inflammatory foods.

Harvesting nettles
Stinging nettles have substantial health benefits, plus you can make them into garden fertilizer

9 Best Vegetables to Reduce Inflammation

The vegetables listed below have special talents for reducing inflammation, but your tastes and preferences should come first when choosing what to grow. Off-the-charts nutritional value is meaningless if you don’t like a certain vegetable! Experiment with leafy greens to find favorites among the many varieties of spinach, kale, chard, and Asian greens. Any leafy green is a sure winner when it comes to managing inflammation.

Listed in seasonal order, here are nine more vegetables and herbs to grow in an anti-inflammation garden.

1. Young stinging nettles harvested in spring are delicious when lightly steamed or made into tea, and they have been valued for their anti-inflammatory properties for centuries.

Garlic chives
Recent research suggests that garlic chives have potent anti-inflammatory properties

2. Chives and garlic chives, especially those harvested in spring, may contain nanoparticles with potent anti-inflammatory effects.

3. Arugula is packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that reduce inflammation and enhance digestive health.

4. Parsley is rich in vitamin K and is a novel source of an anti-inflammatory compound called apigenin. Best of all, if you grow a couple of parsley plants in pots, you always have fresh parsley.

5. Broccoli deserves emphasis for its unique production of sulforaphane, a strong anti-inflammatory compound, along with high levels of vitamins A, C and E.

6. Just because carrots are common and popular, don’t sell them short as anti-inflammation foods. For maximum nutritional benefits, enjoy carrots raw as often as possible.

7. Ripe peppers are worth the wait, because they are power houses of rare compounds that reduce inflammation. Small paprika and other seasoning peppers are easy to grow in containers, and the ripe peppers can be dried or frozen to enjoy year round.

Bok choy
Beyond its beauty and versatility, bok choy rivals spinach in nutrition

8. Bok choy (also called pak choi) is a favorite crop for fall because the fast-growing plants produce dark leaves and crisp, juicy stems. Bok choy also provides selenium and other minerals that give it a slight nutritional edge over spinach.

9. Finally, you gotta have garlic, which is a subtle, slow-burn type of inflammation fighter to enjoy often. When eaten regularly, garlic may even reduce the risk of some types of cancer.

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