Recent studies have shown that the ideal diet is one that is rich in vegetables and fruits. The benefits to our health increase if we go beyond the traditional options, such as carrots, potatoes, and beans, and eat a wide variety of vegetables and fruits. No one plant contains all of the nutrients we need, so it’s best to mix it up, and enjoy a rainbow of colours, textures, and types.
The benefits are widespread:
A diet rich in vegetables and fruits can lower blood pressure, reduce risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, lower risk of eye and digestive problems, and have a positive effect upon blood sugar which can help keep appetite in check. (source)
There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that dietary patterns emphasizing fruits and vegetables may be linked to better psychological health.[i] A recent study found that higher fruit and vegetable consumption may increase well-being, curiosity and creativity, possibly related to micronutrients and carbohydrate composition.[ii] This is probably related to the fact you are giving your body and brain more healthy vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and fiber. (source)
The Meatless Monday campaign, which started in 2003, encourages participants to abstain from meat on Mondays as a way to improve their health and that of the planet. Why not expand this campaign to your garden, and try to grow a favourite vegetable, or something new, and use it as a centrepiece for your Monday meals?
Fun vegetables to grow
Here are some suggestions for interesting and healthy vegetables to try:
- Rainbow chard is rich in vitamins. There are many ways to cook it, or you can enjoy it in salads. You can use it as a replacement for recipes that call for cooked spinach.
- Sweet potatoes are extremely high in vitamin A and rich in fibre. They are delicious baked and in soups.
- Beets are versatile. You can eat the greens or the beetroots themselves, or grate them and add them to cake. They come in a variety of colours, like red, gold, and white. They’re high in folates, iron, and other minerals.
- Kale, like most green vegetables, is high in iron. It likes the cold weather and doesn’t mind a little snow.
- Eggplants/aubergines are often used as replacements for meat. There are several varieties to choose from.
- Winter squash are great in soups, casseroles, or as side dishes. You can grow them in many colours and unusual shapes.
- Ground cherries taste like a combination between pineapples and strawberries. They can be eaten fresh or used in preserves, pies, and other sweet treats.