However, we do have the ability to make some small lifestyle changes that can hopefully turn the study’s trend in the other direction. Sure, adding some simple exercises to your daily routine will definitely help, but you also have to eat healthy otherwise your body won’t get the fuel it needs. So how can we put your vegetable garden to work for a healthier you?
I turned to registered dietitian Dafna Chazin who specializes in healthy cooking and recipe development. “My philosophy is to use vegetables as a way to fill up without a big caloric ‘price tag’,” says Dafna. “This way, people can eat healthy, satisfying meals that add much nutrition to their diet, and have the added benefit of controlling their appetite and weight due to the fiber and water content of veggies.”
Leafy greens such as Kale and Spinach are great choices for anyone’s nutrition plan. They are, as Dafna puts it, “nutritional powerhouses”. With their high contents of iron, calcium, vitamins C, A, E, folate, and water content, who can argue. They are also very versatile when it comes time to prepare them for meals. “The traditional use is as a salad base but they are also great in omelets, soups and even meatballs or just sauteed with garlic and olive oil,” continues Dafna.
They are also easy to grow in many parts of America, as they are a cooler weather crop and can be easily grown in cold frames in the winter months.
Dafna’s second recommendation for veggies from the garden are root crops such as parsnips and turnips. “I often tell patients to eat these vegetables in place of a starch since they are more satisfying, contain fewer calories and a significant amount of fiber and antioxidants so they can be a great side dish that's filling (for those who are trying to lose weight).”
Root crops can be some of the easiest crops to grow and maintain, however, your soil should be loose and friable to make sure that the root can easily expand and grow. Soil with a high clay content may make it too compact and ultimately stunt growth of such crops.
If you are looking for a healthier you and you do not want to be a part of that stat come 2030, then be sure to make some room for those leafy greens and your favorite root crops. That combined with the extra exercise you will get by maintaining your garden will at least be a start to a healthier you.
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, the moderator for the largest vegetable gardening page on Facebook and creator of the monthly Seeds Club.
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