10 “ordinary” superfoods you can easily grow at home
05/29/2021 / By Joanne Washburn / Comments
10 “ordinary” superfoods you can easily grow at home

No one superfood guarantees optimal health – the best diet is still one that’s balanced, after all. But some foods stand out more than others because of their incredible nutritional profile.

Unfortunately, superfoods can burn a hole in your pocket. As more consumers become conscious of their food choices and eating habits, the prices of fresh, nutritious produce have gone up.

But don’t fret. “Ordinary” superfoods, or superfoods you likely already eat on a daily basis, are actually easy to grow, even if you have little to no experience gardening. Growing your own superfoods is a great way to eat healthily without draining your grocery budget.

Here are 10 ordinary superfoods you can easily grow at home:

1. Carrots

If you like crunchy snacks, you’ll love carrots. Don’t let their perceived starch or sugar content deter you. They actually don’t contain as many carbohydrates as other root vegetables. They also give you plenty of beta-carotene, the plant pigment that gives carrots their bright orange color. Beta-carotene is converted in your body to vitamin A.

Purple carrots are also worth trying as they are also rich in potent compounds called anthocyanins. Carrots add a pop of color to salads, soups, stews and side dishes.

Carrots can be grown in a pot or on the ground. Dig about one centimeter (cm) into the soil and sow the seeds, keeping them at least five cm apart. Cover with soil and water regularly. Pull out weeds as they appear. Carrots are easy to grow as long as they are planted in loose, sandy soil in the spring or fall.

2. Rocket

Rocket, also known as arugula or roquette, is a cruciferous vegetable. Though it trails far behind its relatives in popularity, rocket makes a healthy, peppery addition to your salads, sandwiches, pasta and sauces.

Rocket leaves also have more than three times the amount of nitrates in beets. Vegetables get nitrates from the soil. Studies have shown that nitrates in vegetables help keep your blood vessels healthy and lower blood pressure levels.

To grow rocket plants, sow the seeds indoors several weeks before the last frost. Rocket seeds are tiny, so don’t plant them too deep. Rocket grows best in full sun but it doesn’t like a lot of heat. If possible, grow it in full sun while the weather is cool, then provide some afternoon shade as the temperature rises.

3. Blackberries

Blackberries are often overlooked in favor of the more popular blueberries and strawberries. But they actually have twice as much vitamin C as blueberries and twice as much protein as strawberries. Blackberries are loaded with anthocyanins as well.

Blackberries are fairly easy to grow if you have enough space. It’s best to grow them as seedlings to lessen their growing time. The best time to plant blackberry shrubs is early spring, which is why they’re abundant from June through August. Make sure to grow them next to a wall or fence for support. You can also use a trellis.

4. Blackcurrants

Blackcurrants are berries rich in vitamin C. Each 100-gram serving of blackcurrants contains roughly 200 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C. The same serving size of blueberries contains just six mg of vitamin C.

Aside from vitamin C, blackcurrants are rich in antioxidants and anthocyanins. These compounds help fortify your immune system, which is why blackcurrant tea is said to treat cold and flu symptoms.

Blackcurrants can be planted on the ground or grown in a pot. It makes for a low-maintenance crop for a small garden. You also only need one blackcurrant bush in a sunny spot for an abundant harvest. If you plant blackcurrant in the fall, you can expect to get your first proper harvest between June and August.

5. Kale

Kale is a leafy, green vegetable that belongs to the same family as broccoli and spinach. It is well-known for its high levels of vitamins A, C and K. Kale is also rich in compounds called glucosinolates, which have been extensively studied for their potential to prevent and treat cancer.

Kale can tolerate a bit of shade and requires less care than broccoli and cauliflower. If planted in rich soil, kale will produce leaves throughout the growing season. You can harvest the leaves as the plant grows.

6. Parsley

Parsley is a flowering plant native to the Mediterranean region, where it is commonly used as a garnish. It can also be stirred into soups and sauces for added flavor. In traditional medicine, fresh parsley leaves are chewed to get rid of bad breath. Parsley also supports immune health because of its high vitamin C and A content.

To grow parsley, place seedlings in a sunny or partially shaded spot in the garden. You can also grow them in a pot on the patio or on a sunny windowsill. Water regularly and harvest as needed.

7. Cherry tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes add more than just color to salads. These bite-sized superfoods are low in calories but rich in nutrients and compounds that are good for your health, such as vitamin C, potassium and lycopene. Fiber supports digestion and keeps you full for longer, while vitamin C supports immunity. Potassium helps control blood pressure levels.

Lycopene is the plant pigment that gives cherry tomatoes their bright red color. It has been linked to a reduced risk of prostate cancer and heart disease.

Bush-type cherry tomatoes are the easiest variety to grow since they don’t need to be pruned. Plant cherry tomatoes in rich, well-drained soil in a sunny spot. Water the plants deeply and regularly.

8. Beetroot

Beetroot has been linked to a wide range of health benefits, from better athletic performance to improved blood flow. This red-purple root vegetable owes its benefits to the essential nutrients and beneficial compounds it contains, which include fiber, folate, manganese, potassium, iron and nitrates.

Beetroot grows best in rich soil. Sow the seeds at least 10 cm apart in a sunny spot. If you only want the leaves, grow beetroot in a pot.

9. Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts often appear on “most hated vegetable” lists because of their naturally bitter flavor. That distinct flavor comes from sulfur-containing compounds, such as glucosinolates.

Overcooking Brussels sprouts, particularly by boiling, intensifies the vegetable’s bitter flavor. But when cooked and seasoned properly, Brussels sprouts take on a mildly nutty flavor.

Brussels sprouts are a cool-season crop that requires a long growing season. They are best started in spring or fall. Choose a sunny spot that’s sheltered from strong winds. Keep the seeds at least 60 cm apart.

10. Watercress

Watercress, also known as garden cress and broadleaf cress, is a water vegetable known for its peppery leaves, crunchy stems and high antioxidant content. It belongs to the same family of vegetables as kale.

Watercress is an excellent source of vitamin K, a nutrient needed for blood clotting. It is also rich in calcium, a nutrient essential for bone health. In fact, a 100-gram serving of watercress contains the same amount of calcium as a glass of milk. Watercress makes a great garnish and addition to salads.

Watercress is usually found in springs and streams, but you can also grow your own. Plant watercress seeds in a planting basket, then leave the basket to float in a pond or homemade bog. It will take 15–20 days for watercress shoots to develop. Just snip off what you need when harvesting.

Growing your own superfoods is a great way to save money on grocery shopping and still be able to enjoy good food. Nurture your green thumb by growing the superfoods listed above.




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