woman in garden

Start a Garden and Harvest the Health Benefits

By

Mckenzie Ellis

There is nothing more enjoyable than having the opportunity to taste all the mouth-watering treats you’ve harvested from your own garden. Whether it’s straight off the vine or included in your favorite recipe, nothing compares to the fresh, juicy flavors of garden-grown vegetables.

Why Grow Your Own?

As a cook, nurturing your own vegetables is the perfect way to seize control over your ingredients. Spring and summer are planting season, do-it-yourself projects can save money, and you don't have to be a gourmet eater to recognize the advantages of using local and seasonal ingredients. You will always have fresh, tasty, nutritious food on hand. You will know that your food has not been sprayed with chemicals. Your diet may improve now that you have healthier options at your fingertips. Flavors will taste better, brighter.

I love hearing that more and more families are growing their own food, whether veggies in a backyard garden or just potted windowsill herbs that kids can help tend. Either way, I am down with the yard-to-table trend and have rounded up some fantastic recipes on my blog to help you use up the most popular homegrown vegetables in delicious—and kid-friendly—ways. You will be surprised at how satisfying it can be to grow even just one tomato plant in a container.

Studies have shown that gardening has all sorts of health benefits, from boosting your mood and improving your diet, to helping you stay fit and trim.

How is tending a garden beneficial for your overall health?

Gardening is good for your overall health in many ways. First of all, it is a form of physical activity that contributes to your overall physical fitness levels. Secondly, it can boost mood-enhancing hormones. Studies show that gardening can increase the release of serotonin, which has an anti-depressant effect, while decreasing the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Thirdly, it can increase your exposure to health-promoting vitamin D levels we obtain from the sun. And fourthly, studies show that when you garden, you increase your consumption of healthy fruits and vegetables.

What are some of the benefits in terms of a low salt diet?

Most fresh fruits and vegetables contain very little sodium which translates into an “all you can eat buffet” when on a low salt diet. Plant foods are rich in fiber and nutrients for a relatively small sodium level, meaning you can feel satisfied with much less salt! Incorporating fresh vegetables and fruits into recipes provides a balanced healthy fulfilling dish. You do need to be cautious about frozen vegetables as they can sometimes contain sodium for preservation.

Fruits & Vegetables that have “Low Sodium”

Fruits and vegetables that contain 140mg or less sodium per 30 grams or 2 tablespoons.

  • Artichoke
  • Bell Pepper 
  • Broccoli
  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Radish
  • Sweet Potato

Fruits & Vegetables that have “Very Low Sodium”

Fruits and vegetables that contain 35mg or less sodium per 30 grams or 2 tablespoons.

  • Apricots, Dried
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage, Green
  • Cabbage, Green
  • Cabbage, Red
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Cauliflower, Green
  • Chickpeas
  • Chili Peppers, Hot
  • Collard Greens
  • Endive
  • Figs, Dried
  • Grapes
  • Lentils
  • Lettuce, Iceberg
  • Lettuce, Leaf
  • Lima Beans
  • Honeydew
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
  • Onion
  • Onion, Green
  • Papaya
  • Parsley
  • Peas, Split
  • Pigeon Peas
  • Pineapple
  • Pink Beans
  • Pinto Beans
  • Prickly Pear
  • Raisins, Seedless
  • Rhubarb
  • Rutabagas
  • Snap Beans, Yellow
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Tofu
  • Tomato
  • Small White Beans
  • White Beans
  • Winged Beans

Fruits & Vegetables that are “Sodium Free”

Fruits and vegetables that contain less than 5mg sodium per 30 grams or 2 tablespoons.

·      Apple

·      Apricot

·      Asparagus

·      Avocado

·      Banana

·      Green Beans

·      Blackberries

·      Blueberries

·      Carambola

·      Cherries, Sweet

·      Corn

·      Cucumber

·      Currants, Dried

·      Dates

·      Eggplant

·      Endive, Belgian

·      Figs

·      Garlic

·      Gooseberries

·      Grapefruit

·      Guava

·      Kiwifruit

·      Lemon

·      Lettuce, Romaine

·      Lime

·      Mango

·      Nectarine

·      Orange

·      Peach

·      Pear

·      Pepper, Le Rouge Royale

·      Plums

·      Plums, Dried

·      Potato

·      Pummelo

·      Raspberries

·      Squash, Crookneck

·      Squash, Summer

·      Strawberries

·      Tangerine

·      Watermelon

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