9 Superfoods You Can Grow Yourself
As you start your garden this year, consider adding superfoods! These nutrient-packed fruits and veggies are great to have on hand and give your meals that extra oomph from vitamins and antioxidants.
Sure, there are plenty of foods that offer a decent amount of nutritional value—but superfoods set the bar high, providing an exceptional amount of health benefits, immune-boosting qualities, heart-healthy elements, vitamins and antioxidants. Try growing some of these hearty superfoods in your own garden and backyard, so you can enjoy the payoff anytime you please.
The initial craze might have died down since kale first stole the spotlight for its unique flavor and heap of nutrients, but the leafy green is still one of the healthiest of its kind. Aside from the fact that it’s full of vitamins A, C and K, kale also contains antioxidants that help prevent cell damage—and might even boast cancer-fighting properties. Plant kale between early spring and early summer in well-drained, light soil—this is a great superfood starter plant for your garden.
As small as blueberries are, they pack a mighty punch. The essential nutrients they contain are seemingly endless, but they also include anti-inflammatory benefits. Recent studies have even shown that the small berries also play a role in boosting memory, and can help prevent cognitive degeneration. Early spring is the best time to plant a few blueberry bushes in your yard—just make sure the soil is somewhat acidic. Come mid-summer, you could be reaping the benefits at every meal.
The healthier alternative to regular white potatoes are high in vitamin A, making them great for heart health. You can also consume a sweet potato for immune-boosting purposes, as they offer high levels of vitamin C as well. The fact that they’re fat-free and low in sodium make them that much of a healthier option. Sweet potatoes are pretty low maintenance—they can tolerate periods of drought better than most—but they still need water on a regular basis to thrive.
These garden jewels are seriously underestimated. Beets are high in antioxidants and folate, which has been linked to decreasing inflammation and the risk of heart disease. But one of the main reasons beets have earned superfood status is because they’re fiber rich—which means they could possibly help regulate body weight and improve digestion. Plant them anywhere! Beets can survive even the coldest of winters.
Pumpkins’ bright orange coloring is from beta-carotene, a powerful pigment that’s a part of the carotenoid family—and it’s the main reason the gourd is so good for you. Beta-carotene is used to prevent certain cancers and heart disease, and can even be used as treatment for a variety of conditions, from depression to Parkinson’s disease. Pumpkins thrive in full sun.
This superfood just might be able to help reduce the risk of prostate, digestive and pancreatic cancers (thanks to lycopene, another carotenoid). Essential vitamins C, A and B6 also place tomatoes on the superfoods list—in addition to their ability to fight chronic-disease related inflammation. Full sun and well-drained soil are the keys to happy, plentiful tomato plants.
Small but mighty, microgreens are the shoots of younger salad plants. They’re often served as a veggie dish. Microgreens have about five times more vitamins than mature traditional greens, and even the tiniest are higher in antioxidants than their adult forms. Plant the seeds of a vegetable or herb in shallow soil and harvest them when the first few leaves are fully developed.
A member of the cabbage family, broccoli has a high supply of vitamins, minerals and beta-carotene. Even a small serving of low-cal broccoli can provide a high dose of vitamin C—so you’re reaping all the benefits that vitamin C can offer, like cataract treatment and a remedy for the common cold. Plant broccoli in a cooler season like spring or fall, and make sure that the soil remains moist.
Peas are a great source of plant protein. In fact, although they’re small-but-mighty, peas can be considered a vegetable or a protein since they contain such a high amount of the latter. Peas are also so high in nutritional value (like iron), that making them a part of your daily diet is recommended by experts. Peas are one of the easiest plants to grow—once they’re planted you can water them sparingly and harvest all season.