Vegetable gardening is a great activity. It gets you outdoors and is really one of the only hobbies that you can literally eat the fruits of your labor. Today, there is an emphasis on eating healthier, especially for our children, unlike anything I have seen in the past 20 years or so. I recently posted an article on our blog titled, Home Vegetable Gardening: The New Prescription from Doctors and Nutritionists where I discussed the increasing trend of how health professionals are making home vegetable gardening the new prescription.
I wanted to follow up that article with a list of vegetables that gardeners, looking to maximize their space, can grow to ensure they are eating the veggies that yield the highest amounts of vitamins, minerals and nutrients your body needs for a healthier you. I call them, the power vegetables.
I turned to nutrition expert Todd Cambio, BA, BS, CSCS, Sports Nutritionist who is also the author of the book Reducing Pain and Everyday Inflammation: How to Feel Better, Have More Energy, and Increase Flexibility. Todd specializes in sports recovery methods and nutritional counseling. “I highly recommend pretty much all veggies as long as you are mixing up the colors regularly and eating them raw as much as possible,” says Todd. “Eat veggies at every meal, at least one cup.”
The top five power veggies Todd recommends are Broccoli, Butternut Squash, Spinach, Onions and Red Bell Peppers. “I recommend these veggies because they supply you with numerous antioxidants, fiber, electrolytes and anti-inflammatory properties,” says Todd. “Also these red, yellow and orange colored veggies contain carotenoids. Carotenoids are powerful antioxidants, protecting the cells of the body from damage caused by free radicals. Carotenoids are also believed to enhance the function of the immune system.”
All 5 are easy to add to any home vegetable garden, although butternut squash will take up the most room, so you will want to grow them vertically if space is an issue, which you can read more about in Derek Fell’s book Vertical Gardening: Grow Up, Not Out, for more Vegetables and Flowers in Less Space.
Broccoli, spinach and onions are cooler weather crops, where as the red bell peppers love the heat, so plan accordingly. If you are looking for alternatives for any of these as maybe you may not like the taste or flavor, Todd says you can substitute cauliflower, cabbage & zucchini for broccoli; acorn squash and carrots for butternut squash; arugula and other dark leafy greens for spinach; other members of the onion family such as shallots for onions; and other varieties (either sweet or hot) for red bell peppers.
With your own home vegetable garden you have the ability to grow the foods your body needs to be healthier, and as we all know, and as studies have shown, home grown foods, taste better and are higher in nutrients than their store bought counterparts.
About the Author
Mike Podlesny is the author of Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the rest of us and the administrator for the largest vegetable gardening page on Facebook.
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