Many of us grow our own food so that we can eat better and live healthier. Did you know you can grow a wide variety of nutrition-rich superfoods in your spring and summer garden? Here are a few of our favorites:
Just one cup of asparagus contains over 70 percent of your daily recommended amount of vitamin K. Vitamin K is essential for transporting calcium to your bones. Asparagus is also packed with vitamin A, which is excellent for overall immune system support. Grow fresh asparagus at home and you’ll never eat the bland, canned stuff again.
Right now, I’m eating spinach nearly every day. It’s a hallmark of my spring garden because it’s easy to grow, tastes delicious, and it’s very healthy for you. Spring is the time to grow this nutrient powerhouse crop. It is an excellent source of vitamin C and folate. These two nutrients help boost your immune system and fight allergies. Folate is known to support brain health and can even repair DNA! Spinach is also good food to eat for eye health because it contains lutein and zeaxanthin, two necessary phytochemicals that can fight blindness, macular degeneration, and other eye problems.
One cup of green peas will give you an entire day’s supply of vitamin C. Peas are also good sources of thiamin (vitamin B1) and can help with depression, anxiety, and mood support. Blackeyed peas are some of the healthiest peas around. They are loaded down with folate – more than any other vegetable! If you find yourself forgetful, depressed, or irritable, try eating blackeyed peas.
Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, a nutrient that can fight both inflammation and depression. Lycopene is found in the skin of the tomato, so be sure to eat that part of the tomato too! Try growing cherry tomatoes and eat them whole to get the most lycopene possible. (My children will snack on cherry tomatoes like they are potato chips … there’s just something about eating those tiny little globes that make it a novelty!) Tomatoes are also good for your heart and can reduce your risk of some cancers. They also help support a healthy immune system.
Grow and eat lots of peppers for good health – especially the really HOT ones! Overall, any pepper is good for you, but the hotter the pepper, the more antioxidants they carry inside. Antioxidant-rich peppers can lower your risk of stroke and even cancer. Peppers can even bring down your cholesterol!
Pumpkins and Squash
These thick-skinned beauties are also high in antioxidants and packed full of beta-carotene. Eat them for eye health and general immune system support. They are a natural inflammation fighter. If you suffer from sore muscles and achy joints, you owe it to yourself to eat more squash.