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At the time of writing this article, supply chains are questionable and more people are thinking of growing food in their home gardens. After all, why worry about grocery store shortages when you can walk into your backyard and eat some of the most nutrient-dense foods. Humans on average eat 100 or fewer fruits and vegetables, but there are over 50,000 edible plants you can grow in your yard! In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most nutrient-dense foods to grow in your garden that are common and uncommon so that you can add them to your shopping list next time you visit the plant supply store!
Disclaimer: This article provides factual, up-to-date information on the common health benefits of fruits, vegetables, and herbs. This is not meant to be medical or health advice. Please consult your medical provider for tailored information on the best fruits, vegetables, and herbs for your body.
Let’s start with common vegetables, fruits, and herbs that are nutrient-dense:
Common Nutrient-Dense Vegetables
Spinach is a nutrient-dense vegetable that is rich in Vitamin A and Vitamin K which can positively impact your immune system and bone health. It doesn’t take much spinach to get these vitamins, either - just 1 cup of spinach gives you over 100% of your daily value for Vitamin A! A common way to eat spinach is in a salad or in a smoothie. You can also put spinach inside a quiche or a breakfast wrap for a delicious morning treat!
Broccoli is a vegetable that contains vital nutrients like Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Vitamin, and potassium which can positively impact your health. Just 1 cup of broccoli has over 80% of your daily value for Vitamin C. The most common ways to eat broccoli are in stir-fry or with oven-roasted vegetables.
Garlic - you even love it or you hate it. This nutrient-dense vegetable contains a compound called allicin which researchers say can improve blood sugar and overall heart health. A great way to eat garlic is to mash it and mix it in your salad dressings or protein sauces. If you do not like the taste of garlic, you can enjoy the health benefits if you consume garlic powder in pill form.
Common Nutrient-Dense Fruits
Lemons are low-calorie citrus fruits that are packed with Vitamin C and antioxidants. Squeezing the juice of a lemon into your morning water or on top of a salad is a great way to consume the fruit to enjoy these health benefits.
Blueberries are a superfood and they contain an antioxidant called anthocyanin that researchers believe can protect against stroke, cancer, and heart disease. A great way to consume blueberries is on top of yogurt or cereal. Another way to eat blueberries is by blending them in a smoothie.
Avocados are rich in potassium and oleic acid, which the American Heart Association says can help manage cholesterol levels to lower the risk of heart disease. Avocados also contain nutrients like magnesium and Vitamin C. A great way to eat avocados is to slice them thin and place them on toast with your favorite spices. Another common way to eat avocados is to slice them and put them on top of a salad or protein bowl.
Common Nutrient-Dense Herbs
Thyme is a nutrient-dense herb that is filled with healthy compounds like iron, copper, and Vitamin C which can be helpful for your immune system and oxygen levels. A common way to eat thyme is fresh or dried on pasta, salads, and eggs. Another way to eat thyme is with roasted vegetables or fish.
Rosemary is an herb you can grow right in your garden that contains beneficial antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that can improve blood circulation and cardiovascular health. Rosemary also has carnosic and rosmarinic acids which can have antibacterial properties. A common way to eat rosemary is in soups or salads. Another way to enjoy this nutrient-dense herb is on grilled poultry or fish.
Oregano is an herb packed with antioxidants, fiber, and Vitamin K. Oregano also contains calcium and iron which can promote strong bones and healthy blood flow. A common way to eat oregano is fresh or dried on pizza or pasta. Another way to eat oregano is in marinades or even stuffing!
Now that we covered a list of common nutrient-dense vegetables, fruits, and herbs, let’s discuss the uncommon ones:
Uncommon Nutrient-Dense Vegetables
This vegetable that is native to Africa and Asia is packed with nutrients like vitamin E, vitamin B, and magnesium. The vitamin E in taro root can help with vision, reproduction, and skin. A common way to eat taro root is to make taro root fries or thinly sliced baked taro chips. Another creative way to eat taro root is to put taro root powder in milk or hot water.
Romanesco is an eye-catching vegetable packed with nutrients like zinc, iron, and vitamin C. Eating romanesco can help promote a healthy immune system and help you get more oxygen in your blood. A common way to eat romanesco is like people eat broccoli - roast it and add it to pasta or pan fry it like a stir fry. You can even add romanesco to a sandwich or salad.
Fiddleheads are the leaves of baby ferns. Foragers learned to eat these nutrient-dense vegetables before they unfold into mature ferns because they are packed with vitamin C, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. A common way to eat fiddleheads is to steam, sauté, roast, or pickle them. If you’ve ever seen these in person, consider yourself lucky - most people go their whole lives without seeing a fiddlehead!
Uncommon Nutrient-Dense Fruits
Jackfruit is packed with antioxidants, vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium. This fruit can grow up to 110 pounds which makes it an economical food option to grow in your garden. A common way to eat jackfruit is to harvest the fruit unripe and eat it as a meat alternative. People add BBQ sauce to this fruit and make BBQ sandwiches!
The Prickly Pear, also referred to as Nopal, is native to Mexico and the southwestern US. This nutrient-dense fruit is packed with vitamin C and magnesium. Magnesium can help improve heart health and your immune system. A common way to eat prickly pear is to remove the skin and enjoy fresh slices. You can also turn the fruit into a syrup for homemade margaritas or sparkling water!
Husk Cherries are small yellow fruits that taste similar to grapes. This fruit is nutrient-dense and contains beta carotene, a powerful antioxidant that can improve your immune system. Husk cherries also contain vitamin B which can help your cells deliver nutrients to the rest of your body in a more efficient way. A common way to eat husk cherries is to make them into jam for pies and tarts. You can also add the jam to muffins and bread for a yummy breakfast treat.
Uncommon Nutrient-Dense Herbs
Borage is a nutrient-dense herb that tastes similar to cucumber. Often referred to as the starflower, borage is packed with nutrients that can help with inflammation and arthritis. Most people turn borage into borage oil to consume this herb or use it as a topical oil for their skin.
Chamomile is an herb you can grow in your garden that helps with indigestion, nausea, and even mouth pain. Chamomile is most commonly consumed in tea form so you can enjoy a hot cup of chamomile tea fresh from your garden.
Ginseng is a nutrient-dense herb that contains a compound called ginsenosides which can help boost your energy and mood. Ginseng can boost your immune system or reduce inflammation. The most common way to eat ginseng is to boil the root and drink the water like tea. Another common way to eat Ginseng is to eat the root after you boil it.
Thanks for enjoying this article on the most nutrient-dense vegetables, fruits, and herbs to grow in your garden. If you are growing these plants in your garden, send us a picture via email so we can give you a shoutout in this article!
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