Ann Wigmore (a famous holistic health practitioner) called food our most powerful medicine or our slowest form of poison. When we eat right, we put our bodies in the best positions possible to fight disease and we slow down the process of ageing. But, it can be hard to fill our body with pure, nutritious vegetables and fruits that are rich in vitamins in a world of pesticides and GMO’s.
Spending more time at home, thanks to lockdown, has given many of us the opportunity to do more around the house and more for us. Starting a garden may just be the most healthful thing you can do for yourself and your family. There’s the misunderstanding that a vegetable garden needs space. But, a patch just the size of a door can feed a family of four people. So, the yield is incredible and well worth the effort (which is so rewarding too).
Food is Medicine – How?
Fresh vegetables and herbs are an impressive source of the vitamins and minerals, which are essential nutrients that enable the human body to thrive and survive. They convert food into usable energy, boost the immune system, and help tissues to grow and repair. Vitamins and minerals actually repair damage at a cellular level. A lack of important vitamins and minerals translates to damage and decline – whether that means ageing faster or developing diseases like cancer or heart disease.
Incorporating the vitamins and minerals that build your body into your diet puts you in the best position to fight disease, conserve energy, look great and keep fighting fit. Eating fresh, organic fruit and vegetables is the best way to get loads of these nutrients.
Best Vitamin-Rich Vegetables to Grow in South Africa
Whether you have a patch of garden to dedicate to some fresh vegetables or you need to scatter plants around the house in pots and troughs, it is well worth it to get your hands on fresh, delicious and organic food. To make sure you get the healthiest vegetables, try to use heirloom seeds (from organic vegetables that have not been exposed to chemicals or hormones).
These are some of the best and easiest vegetables to grow in South Africa:
This is one of the healthiest vegetables to grow, thanks to its high levels of vitamins A and C, calcium, folic acid, iron and magnesium. It’s also really high in fibre. Broccoli grows well during winter and early spring because it thrives in cooler temperatures.
Delicious in stir-fries or as a buttery addition to a roast, cabbage has loads of vitamins B6, C and K; folate; manganese and fibre. As an added bonus, it grows well in a variety of climatic and soil conditions.
Courgettes / baby marrows
These have vitamin C and potassium and are low in calories, which means that they’re filling while not being fattening. They thrive in spring and summer.
It’s hard to ignore all of the health benefits of ginger. It has vitamin B3, B6, and C; potassium; magnesium; zinc; folate and phosphorous. It is a massive immune booster, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It does best in hot, humid conditions with plenty of water.
Cauliflower has plenty of vitamins B and C as well as potassium, healthy carbohydrates and fibre. It grows well in cool or warm conditions that aren’t too extreme.
Celery grows well and is packed full of health benefits, making it a great choice for your vegetable garden. It has potassium, vitamins A and K, choline, folate, sodium and fluoride. Celery is fabulous for weight loss and for calming down inflammation in the body.
With its generous quantities of vitamins A, B1 and B2; niacin and calcium; spinach is a winner. It’s easy to grow and to incorporate in many different dishes.
Rich and meaty, brinjals are loaded with manganese, folate, potassium, and vitamin K. They’re also high in protein, fibre and good carbs, but low in calories. They do best in warm, humid conditions in areas that are usually fairly temperate.
This sweet root is a powerful antioxidant and is rich in the A and C vitamins. Its leaves are also delicious and can be cooked like spinach. It grows well in cool or shady areas.
Pumpkin is high in beta-carotene, zinc, potassium and vitamin A. It’s delicious roasted, in soup or in a salad. Pumpkins grow well in warm to hot conditions too, making it ideal for South African gardens.
Green, red and yellow peppers have extremely high levels of vitamin C as well as A, boosting the immune system and providing important antioxidants. They do well in fairly hot conditions.
A favourite for stews and roasts, turnips have an impressive list of nutrients. These include the vitamins A, B1, B3, B5, B6, B12; folate (B9); iron; calcium; copper; manganese; magnesium; phosphorous; omega-3 fatty acids; potassium and protein.
Other Vitamins and Supplements
Of course, once you’re eating well from the fresh produce of your garden, you’re not likely to need much in the way of supplements. However, it’s hard to ensure that your diet is almost entirely made up of organic, healthful foods. So, taking supplements like milk thistle, vitamin D, vitamin C (best in the liposomal form), moringa (which kills parasites and is a fantastic source of energy) and zinc is almost always a great idea (unless your doctor informs you otherwise).
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