Home gardens are set up to provide the gardener and his family with the fresh vegetables which they love to eat over an extended period of time, directly from the back yard. This is a good thing but what if you could grow five or six of the healthiest veggies around, ones which make a huge contribution to the well-being of the entire family.
Well it turns out that this is literally “easy as pie” and there is still time to plant and harvest all of these power veggies this season, here in growing zone 6.
While many veggies qualify as super foods we are going to recommend turnip greens, eggplant, kale, Swiss chard, winter squash and Brussels sprouts. There is still plenty of time to direct seed the first 4 into the garden, winter squash goes in at the end of May in zone 6 and Brussels sprouts are a fall crop anyway; there is no reason to miss out on any of these healthy veggies.
Briefly, what do these plants offer?
Turnip greens are high in calcium, but super rich in all important cancer fighting phytonutrient agents known as glucosinolates. They out score even the highly regarded kale plant in this regard. Vitamin and other nutrients are also off the dial, one cup of cooked kale supplies 220% of the daily Vitamin A requirement, 65% of Vitamin C, 42% of folate and a whopping 660% of the anti-inflammatory Vitamin K. And a turnip also comes with all this goodness!
Eggplant offers a lot of benefits to the human body. Chief among these is the phenolic anti-oxidant compound chlorogenic acid which is probably the most potent free-radical scavenging compound found in edible plants, and a similarly potent flavonoid called nasunin. Not only is eggplant a powerful anti-carcinogen, it also possesses antimicrobial, anti-LDL or bad cholesterol and antiviral properties.
Kale is a well know super-food. Steamed kale acts as a remarkable anti-cholesterol agent. Isothiocyanates, found in abundance in kale reduce the risk for at least 5 times of common cancers. Kales glucosinolates perform powerful detoxification work and with at least 45 well known flavonoids present kale is the champion of anti-inflammatory veggies.
Swiss chard is possibly unique in its ability to regulate blood sugar levels through the good offices of a flavonoid called syringic acid. Chard is also packed with at least 28 phytonutrients called betalains which offer antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification activities.
And steamed chard is delicious!
Brussels sprouts, planted for a fall crop are surprising science with the ability, through compounds that regulate the activities of certain enzymes that protects DNA from some of the ravages of time. Brussels sprouts have the potential when steamed to greatly reduce cholesterol and if that were not enough, Brussels sprouts contain more cancer fighting glucosinolate compounds than any other known commonly eaten vegetable!
Butternut squash with its solid, bright orange flesh looks like a potent source of carotenoid anti-oxidants and indeed, that is the case. In fact it is one of the top vegetable sources for these compounds including lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-cryptoxanthin which have been proven to be so vital to healthy vision. Slowly dried butternut seeds are also rich in omega-6 fatty acids, and make delicious snacks.
Butternut squash also possesses potent anti-inflammatory compounds.
“Eat your vegetables, they are good for you!” Grandma always said.
Modern science is finding out just how correct Grandma was.
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