Freshly-grown produce is superior both in flavor and nutrients. A superfood must have one or more essential vitamins and minerals and/or be a rich source of 'phytochemicals', powerful substances that protect the body's cells from damage. Just by growing a few vegetables and fruit in your garden, you have a superfood garden.
Here are some essential plants that you can grow relatively easily at home, for your very own well-balanced superfood garden.
Radishes are from the same family as cabbages, and although not usually thought of as a superfood, they are rich in cancer-protective glucosinilates. They also contain Vitamin C, folic acid, potassium and selenium, so are great for the liver, gall bladder and reproductive health.
Radishes are easy to grow and mature quickly. The leaves are also edible and can be used in salads.
Tomatoes contain Vitamin C and E, as well as Beta-carotene and the super-nutrient lycopene, which develops fully in tomatoes around the 11th day of natural ripening. Most commercial varieties are picked green and ripened artificially, so have low levels of lycopene. Lycopene protects against breast and prostate cancer, and helps prevents blood clots and loss of vision in old age.
Growing tomatoes requires some care and attention, and although they grow best in a greenhouse, they can be grown successfully outside. Young tomato plants should be kept indoors, a sunny windowsill is ideal, until they begin to flower.
Garlic is a great healing plant; it is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal bulb, which can benefit a range of illnesses from chest infections, food poisoning, and heart health. It is one of the most widely researched of all medicinal foods, and is easy to grow and store.
It is best not to plant garlic cloves bought from a supermarket - they may carry disease and may not be suited to the climate. Instead buy garlic cloves that are grown to be planted out, e.g. from a garden centre.
Carrots belong to the parsley family and are the best plant source of Beta-carotene (provitamin A). This vitamin is beneficial for the vision, but carrots can also benefit conditions like heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
Freshly-grown carrots are a lot more flavorsome and fragrant than commercially-bought carrots, and are at their best when they are freshly picked, so by regularly sowing suitable varieties, you can have fresh carrots for most of the year.
Spinach is rich in folic acid, and is a vital source of the plant chemicals zeaxanthine and lutein, major protectors of eyesight, including against age-related macular degeneration.
Spinach is available in long-lasting perennial varieties or as an annual (only grows for one year, and then dies). Perennial spinach has big leaves, and will grow again for consecutive years, whereas if you want small-leaved or baby spinach, try annual spinach.
Blueberries are a super-superfood, packed with more antioxidants than any other fruit or vegetable, and flavonoids like the antibacterial anthocyanoside, along with Vitamin C many other nutrients beneficial for the conditions like varicose veins, deep-vein thrombosis, heart disease and other conditions of the digestive and pulmonary systems.
Blueberries should be grown in ericaceous (acidic) soil, and watered only with rainwater to maintain their acidity. A suggestion is to grow them in large pots outside, and once they begin to produce fruit, cover them with netting to protect the fruit from birds.
These are one of the top fruit sources of fiber, and have powerful antioxidants that are effective at fighting infections and cancer, as well as detoxifying. They have antimicrobial effects that can prevent to spread of bacteria and fungi in the digestive system.
Raspberries are best grown from bare-root plants in the autumn, and once established; just a few raspberry plants can provide delicious fresh fruit from mid-summer until mid-autumn.
Cabbage is delicious and nutritious, and can be enjoyed stirfried, steamed or eaten raw. It is packed full of vitamins, minerals and cancer-protective chemicals, which are released as indoles when the leaves are chopped.
Cabbages can be grown all year round and are more successful when started off indoors, and transplanted outdoors when the plants are about 6-8 cm tall.