Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Thursday

March 21, 2013

Plant a healthy diet in your garden

When I was teaching gardening to elementary students our mantra was “Eat a Rainbow.”

So we planted and happily harvested purple carrots, orange tomatoes, red radishes and yellow melons.

Eating a rainbow is something all of us should do every day. Eating a colorful diet guarantees that we are getting a wide range of vitamins, minerals and nutrients.

So as you go about planning your garden this year, consider growing your produce for its nutritional impact. Gary Heilig of Michigan State University Extension said that gardeners might be pleasantly surprised at the nutritional value of a homegrown veggie.

After comparing 50 vegetables, the highest level of vitamin E is found in rhubarb. For vitamin K the winner is kale, he said.

Kale is considered a superfood because it also contains the highest concentration of nutrients and vitamins such as A, C, K, B6 and calcium of any leafy green vegetable, said Kirsten Gerbatsch, Michigan Land Use Institute’s FoodCorps Service Member garden coordinator. “Kale is also a dynamic garden green — it grows in a wide range of climates and can even survive severe frost,” she added.

For the best source of folate, sow some Edamame soybeans. And Popeye was right, spinach does make you stronger.

“While not quite as hardy as kale, spinach thrives in cooler temperatures and is a great choice for the spring garden. It is high in Vitamins A, C, K and folate, and a great source of iron,” said Gerbatsch.

Greens are one of the best sources for calcium and magnesium.

Want some vitamin C? A cup of fresh red bell peppers provides more vitamin C than a glass of orange juice. Broccoli also ranks high in vitamin C.

Radishes, an easy to grow veggie, are another surprising source of vitamin C. One cup of raw radishes provides 28 percent of one’s daily vitamin C.

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