Let’s hear it for super foods from the garden

Photograph of and courtesy Michelle Ricker.

We can make a commitment to promote vegetables and fruits and whole grains on every part of the menu. We can make portion sizes smaller and emphasize quality over quantity. And we can help create a culture — imagine this — where our kids ask for healthier options instead of resisting them.” 

— Former First Lady Michelle Obama 

 It’s that time of year in which gardeners are once again preparing their soil, patiently anticipating a bountiful season full of nutritious fruits and vegetables.  

Michelle Ricker is a registered dietitian, nutritionist and epigenetics coach. As a colleague of mine with more than 25 years of experience in the field of nutrition, fitness and genomics, she happily obliged when I reached out to her for the top five garden vegetables and fruits based on her views of their health benefits.  

SALAD GREENS (LEAF LETTUCE, ARUGALA, SPINACH)

  • Plenty of fiber, which has been shown to normalize bowel movements, lower cholesterol levels, control blood sugar levels and aid in achieving a healthy weight
  • High in zeaxanthin to help reduce the risk of aged-related macular degeneration
  • High in potassium to help protect against osteoporosis and high blood pressure
  • High in magnesium for energy production 

BROCCOLI

  • Sulforaphane in broccoli has been shown to kill cancer cells
  • Helps reduce osteoarthritis risk
  • Aids in blood pressure control and kidney function
  • Reduces oxidative stress to help slow the aging process
  • Helps with heart health
  • May fight excess estrogen for reduced risk of breast cancer

KALE

  • High in fiber 
  • Loaded with antioxidants that decrease oxidative stress, which is the leading contributing factor to neurocognitive disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Rich in iron,and vitamins A, C and K
  • High in glucosinolates that act as in an anti-inflammatory and antiviral manner
  • Helps get rid of toxins and eliminate them from the body
  • Rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, which are powerful for vision health

BLUEBERRIES

  • Research is showing a handful of blueberries a day could reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases as blues contain a compound that is a “neuro-protective agent”
  • One of the highest antioxidant foods to decrease the aging process
  • Reverse inflammation in the body
  • Promote digestive health because of their pre-biotic potential

TURMERIC

  • Incredible anti-inflammatory
  • Has been shown to help with rheumatoid arthritis symptoms
  • Aids in digestion
  • Increases the antioxidant properties of the body
  • Studies show it may help as a natural painkiller
  • Are you currently already consuming some of these foods? If so, great and keep at it. If not, add them to your diet this season and enjoy what could be some amazing benefits. Whether you grow your own garden vegetables or shop for them, prioritize getting these five in for what they might contribute to your health and wellness.  

Reach Giovanni on Twitter @GiovanniRoselli and his website, GiovanniRoselli.com.

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