I’m sure you’ve been hearing the term ‘superfood’ being thrown around. Superfoods by definition, are “calorie sparse and nutrient dense meaning they pack a lot of punch for their weight as far as goodness goes.”
Growing your own superfoods ensures that you eat seasonally and locally (find out why eating seasonally and locally is best), gets you outside and in touch with nature and means that you’re healthy eating meal plan grown without chemicals and pesticides. Being in the garden is great for relieving stress and great for the environment.
Superfoods are full of antioxidants and vitamins that our bodies need to crave. There are plenty of exotic superfoods such as acai, maca powder, and goji berries available online and in health food stores, but what about locally sourced ones? And ones we can grow ourselves? Here are my suggestions for easy-to-grow superfoods and why I love to eat them.
A portion of food and medicine in one. Most commonly used for its properties against infection. (and cancer) Garlic’s high concentration of Vitamin B6 helps maintain a healthy immune system,( read our blog on maintaining your immune system ) aids cardiovascular disease and helps regulate blood sugar levels.
Increasingly popular as the ‘king of greens’, kale is one of the richest sources of Vitamin K which assists in blood clotting, mineral absorption, and liver support. It’s also a good source of Vitamin C and Vitamin A which supports good eye health. Kale also has good levels of copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus. Easy to grow all year through, kale is happy in a pot or a garden bed. It won’t flower for the first couple of years so it has a long life span. Once you’ve finished picking all the leaves, cut it down to about 2 inches from the ground and within a couple of weeks, it’ll begin to sprout new leaves again.
Chock full of antioxidants and Vitamin K, C and A. As well as being a fantastic anti-inflammatory and immune booster, spinach is great for skin, bones and nervous systems. Great for cool climates, so not a summer planter unless you’re happy to go straight to seed. If you do plant it in warmer weather, make sure to plant it in a shady position. Once a spinach plant is fully grown, it will produce leaves for about 4 weeks and you can just pick the leaves off as you need.
Another great source of Vitamins K, C and A. High in folic acid and fiber. It’s a great source of calcium and therefore perfect for those low in Vitamin D as it helps the absorption of Vitamin D whether from sunlight, or taken as a supplement. Best grown in the cooler seasons, so plant your seedlings at the end of summer. Once the main flower head has grown, cut it off so you get more crops from side shoots. Harvest broccoli sooner rather than later as the taste begins to fail once yellow flowers start to appear.
Fantastic for regulating blood pressure and flushing out fluids (for good kidney function). High in Vitamin A, B12, C and K, and another cancer-fighting food too! Parsley is easy to grow, even from seed and even if you live in an apartment so there’s no excuse for not having a pot of this wonderful herb. Grow it in a well-drained spot and pick the leaves often once it’s established to promote dense growth.
Sunchokes Knew as Jerusalem Artichoke. A root vegetable high in carbohydrate inulin, Vitamin B and C. Great for diabetics because the inulin helps to regulate blood sugar levels. Sunchokes are used to treat gastrointestinal diseases, gall bladder, and hypertension. Sunchokes are also great for balancing metabolism, boosting immunity and removing toxins. Sunchokes grow to about 3 meters tall and look like sunflowers. The root is the edible part and if you don’t remove all the tubers, they’ll keep growing year after year. It doesn’t get easier than that!
There are many more superfoods you can grow at home and there are always alternatives for plants you don’t like or can’t grow in your area.
Eating food you’ve grown yourself is so satisfying, always tastes better (need recipe ideas? see Helen’s favorite recipe sites ) and it’s cheaper too!
Superfoods are amazing, but that doesn’t mean you can go nuts with them. They are potent, so make sure you maintain a balanced diet. As they say, “too much of anything is not good for you”.