Antioxidants are molecules that inhibit the production of free radicals. These free radicals can lead to chain reactions which ultimately damage cells in the human body. Many consider antioxidants essential to maintaining your health and according to several studies including the study from Research in Pharmaceutical Sciences it states that antioxidants may aid in disease prevention.
If you’re considering increasing your household’s intake of antioxidants and you prefer to get them through organically-grown foods (instead of supplements) then you may consider growing them as a family in your own backyard or community garden. We have provided below the top five fun-to-grow fruits and vegetables that would make great candidates for your antioxidant garden.
5 Antioxidant-Rich Fruits and Vegetables to Grow in Your Urban Garden
Blueberries top the list of practically every article naming antioxidant rich foods. This tiny berry holds more of the magic molecules than over three-dozen of the most common fruits in vegetables common to North America. They are especially rich in proanthocyanidins, which are flavonoids with potent antioxidant capacity. Blueberries can be grown with confidence in moderate Canadian climates, with local blueberry farms thriving in places such as Richmond and Abbotsford in British Columbia. Blueberries can be eaten fresh out of the blueberry patch and make a fun and tasty addition to oatmeal, baked goods and smoothies. Learn more about growing blueberries in your locale here.
Kale grows extremely well in cooler climates which makes it a great candidate for this list. Kale is touted as being one of the world’s superfoods and for good reason. This leafy-green vegetable is jam packed with beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and alpha-lipoic acid. Alpha-lipoic acid, which is both fat and water soluble (meaning that it works throughout the entire body), is an antioxidant of special interest. A study shows that alpha-lipoic acid may help regenerate other antioxidants. Alpha-lipoic acid also occurs naturally in the body and turns glucose into energy. Kale makes a great foundation for salads or as an addition to sandwiches (in lieu of traditional lettuce) and even smoothies. Learn more about growing kale in your locale here.
Tomatoes are rich in varying antioxidants, including carotenoids, ascorbic acid, Vitamin E, phenol compounds and are by far the most abundant source of lycopene. Research has shown that lycopene is a natural combatant to chronic degenerative diseases. Lycopene actually requires the presence of good fats for optimal absorption which is why tomatoes and olive oil are not only a perfect marriage for taste (pasta dishes, etc.) but for health as well.
Strawberries are one of the most highly concentrated antioxidant carrying fruits, with phenolic compounds that include flavonoids. This berry also contains a significant amount of folic acid. Antioxidant properties aside, strawberries make a great addition to this list because they too thrive in urban gardens with temperate climates AND kids of all-ages love them as a healthy snack on their own, in a smoothie or with dessert. Learn more about growing strawberries in your locale here.
Onions are round mounds that pound for pound pack-in a rich collection of antioxidants and health-promoting phytochemicals. Best known for an antioxidant compound flavonoid known as quercetin, onions may (according to studies) play a big role in protecting against heart disease and other diseases in addition to providing anti-inflammatory and antihistamine effects. The secret to onions, is found just under its thin skin. Flavonoids in onions are more concentrated in the outer layers. To maximize access to antioxidants peel-off as little of the skin as you can, fight back the tears, and consume it raw. Of course you can keep the antioxidant properties in tact by simply adding sliced (from the outer-layer) onions to salads and sandwiches.