Growing your own food can lead to improvements in your health and well-being. Even a small garden can have a big impact on you and your family’s big health. Because we can’t create vitamins or fiber within our bodies, we must find nutritive foods that will supply the critical components we need to help the human body prevent disease and stay fueled for a busy life.
Why is it important to grow our own food? Because freshly picked vegetables, fruits, and herbs have high levels of vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. And it also gives us the ability to know exactly what’s in the soil and control how the fruits, vegetables, and herbs are grown.
Vitamins, Minerals, Antioxidants, and the Preventative Diet
Seeking foods for your diet that have a healthy quantity of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and good fats is a smart move for wellness. Experts at the world-renowned Mayo Clinic in Minnesota say that choosing these more nutritious offerings over foods that have high amounts of sugar, salt, saturated fat, and cholesterol with little nutritional value, combined with a positive exercise program, will help reduce your health risks and increase your overall health.
The reactive molecules that are created within your body and the surrounding environment are known as oxidants. Every human body creates oxidants that help to defend against invading viruses and microbes. The negative oxidants in the environment are a part of air pollution, alcohol, cigarette smoke, and other chemical exposure. Too many oxidants present in your system can cause cellular damage and lead to chronic health issues such as Alzheimer’s, vision loss, cancer, and heart disease. Antioxidants are substances that intercept oxidants and constrain them so they can’t cause as much cellular damage.
According to the Harvard University School of Public Health,
“The studies so far … generally don’t provide strong evidence that antioxidant supplements [a.k.a. vitamin-style anti-oxidant pills] have a substantial impact on disease. … At the same time, abundant evidence suggests that eating whole fruits, vegetables, and whole grains—all rich in networks of antioxidants and their helper molecules—provides protection against many of these scourges of aging.”
While all plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables likely contribute to improved health and reduced health risks, eating green leafy vegetables such as Swiss Chard, Lettuce, Spinach, and Mustard Greens should be your top choices. Doctors are also praising cruciferous vegetables including Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts, Bok Choy, and Kale as selections that contribute to a stronger preventative diet.
Eating the Rainbow
Vegetables, fruits, herbs, seeds, beans, and legumes can all be grown in a home garden and offer the specific attributes of being anti-inflammatory and healthier for you than junk food. These foods are high in nutritional value with lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants as their nutrient base because you’re picking them at the peak of ripeness fresh out of your own garden and walking them immediately to the kitchen counter for preparation.
Produce that’s found in our grocery store is often picked before fully ripe and allowed to ripen on the shelf. This means that the produce won’t have a full range of vitamins and nutrients. Growing vegetables, fruit, and herbs in your own garden makes it far more likely that you’ll consume a vegetable that has grown to its full nutritive potential.
One thing most doctors seem to agree on is that there’s no single fruit, herb, seed, or vegetable that can provide all the nutrients you need to be healthy and well. The secret to eating foods to enhance your health is to consume a diet filled with a strong variety of plant-based foods in order to help prevent cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Most foods that are highly nutritious are also highly colorful.
Over the years, the expression “eat the rainbow” has come to mean that the more colorful foods you eat, the more likely you are to consume a stronger nutritive value. Why not “grow the rainbow”? There are more vitamins, anti-oxidants, and phytonutrients in more highly pigmented vegetables.
We know that green leafy and cruciferous vegetables have performed particularly well in disease prevention studies. Based on your blood tests and medical professional’s recommendations, you might grow foods that fit your personal health history requirements. For instance, if your body is low in Vitamin A, you could choose to grow produce that has high levels of Vitamin A such as Swiss Chard, Sweet Potato, Parsley, Carrots, Basil, Kale, Lettuce, Bok Choy, or Spinach.
Outside of specific advice from your medical professionals, consider which herbs, fruits, and vegetables you like that might have stronger nutritional content. Grow plant-based foods you prefer, but also spend some time experimenting with vegetables that have strong color for your plate such as eggplant, beets, yellow squash, or red cabbage. Garden container designs can feature all the bold color of the rainbow to please the eye and please the palate. For instance, Swiss chard, kale, arugula, and parsley planted together in a container can be a beautiful arrangement, but more importantly, these vegetables are especially good for your body.
Shawna Coronado is an anti-inflammatory lifestyle author, coach, media host, photographer, and writer. She is recognized for wellness and anti-inflammatory lifestyle, organic gardening, and healthy nutrition. Shawna dreams of helping others live a healthier, more active, lifestyle. You can learn more about Shawna at www.ShawnaCoronado.com.