Summer Superfoods

By: Gina Rhee

This summer, we have been growing a beautiful variety of healthy and nutritious foods from our organic food garden. All these vegetables are packed with vitamins and nutrients that can boost your health in many ways. Here, we would like to introduce you to a few of our favorites!

Spinach

Spinach is the staple food of Popeye the Sailor for a reason! The green, leafy vegetable is packed with vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and fiber that can lower the risk for multiple diseases including cancer, heart disease, and hypertension. For example, spinach contains abundant nitrates, which are natural compounds that can help lower blood pressure. Spinach is also rich in numerous vitamins and anti-oxidants, which have been associated with cancer prevention. It provides lutein, which can protect your eyes from cataracts and macular degeneration. As an added bonus, spinach is a super low-calorie food – one cup of cooked spinach provides less than 50 calories! So, don’t be afraid to add a mountain of spinach to your salad, soup, stir-fry, casseroles, and pasta!

Collards

Despite their numerous health benefits, collards never flourished in popularity like kale or spinach. In general, eating a diet rich in plant foods, such as collards, can lower your risk for cancer, obesity, heart disease, and overall mortality. Specifically, collards contain many nutrients with anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels as well as maintain heart health. Collards are also rich in vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, and iron. Additionally, similar to spinach, collards are a great source of fiber, which can help maintain a happy and healthy digestive tract. As a versatile vegetable, collards can be enjoyed as a side dish, in a salad or soup, or cooked in with meat dishes. Get creative as you try to incorporate more collards into your meals!

Green Peppers

Green peppers are rich in a variety of carotenoids that can help maintain healthy eyes and vision, while preventing cataracts and macular degeneration. Green peppers also contain a strong dose of Vitamin C. In fact, one cup of chopped green peppers can easily help you reach your daily recommended goal for Vitamin C. Green peppers also provide niacin, a specific type of Vitamin B, which helps maintain digestive health. Finally, green peppers are low in calories and fat, thus a great option to include in weight loss diets.

Tomatoes

The plump, juicy red tomato is another vegetable that is packed full of anti-oxidants, vitamins, and nutrients. Notably, the lush red color of the tomato comes from lycopene, an anti-oxidant that has been associated with lower risk for cancer, heart disease, and strokes. Lycopene has also been linked with improved skin health and protection against sunburns. Tomatoes are also full of Vitamin C, which is important for boosting your immune system and maintaining healthy skin. Just one medium tomato can provide 28% of the daily recommended dose of Vitamin C! So, for your next meal, try to serve fresh or roasted tomatoes on the side, create your own batch of tomato sauce, or cook up a warm, hearty shakshuka!

Broccoli

These tree-like vegetables can provide a large range of health benefits due to the numerous nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that they contain. For instance, broccoli contains many phytonutrients, which are nutrients that help detoxify our body. Broccoli is also known to have a positive influence on our digestive system, particularly due to its high fiber content. Fiber may also help lower cholesterol levels and ultimately improve heart health. Broccoli also contains a healthy mix of vitamins including vitamins A, B, C, E, and K, which can benefit your eyes, skin, hair, heart, and brain! Finally, broccoli is a high protein vegetable that can provide over 4g of protein in one medium stalk!

Cabbage

Similar to all the vegetables featured here, cabbage is packed full of vitamins, anti-oxidants, and fiber. In particular, cabbage is full of vitamins C and K. One cup of fresh green cabbage can provide 85% of the recommended daily dose of vitamin K and over 50% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C. Notably, cabbage contains a huge variety of flavonoids and phenols, which are important for their anti-oxidant activity. These anti-oxidants likely explain why cabbage has been linked to a decreased risk for heart disease and cancer. Cabbage has also been strongly associated with the prevention of type II diabetes. Luckily, these vegetables are both healthy and affordable! Despite their rich nutrient profile, cabbage is relatively cost-friendly compared to other vegetables. Be sure to consider the cabbage as a new addition to your meals.

For More Information on The Fit and Food Connection Organic Food Garden, Please Visit: https://fitandfoodconnection.org/programs-3/organic-food-garden/

 

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