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Today, the first Friday in February, is the American Heart Association Go Red For Women Day. The staff at Green City Growers is 75% women, so we’re celebrating! We realize it takes more than one day of wearing red to end heart disease, the number one killer of women in America.
Why do we feel it’s important to take the additional step of growing your own instead of simply adding these foods to your grocery list? Glad you asked! It’s the nutrient density of these fruits and vegetables (richness in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber in comparison to total calories) that make them heart-healthy, and growing your own will boost this density. Gardening takes effort, and is a wonderful form of exercise. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to heart disease, and gardening gets us outdoors and into the sun! Pomegranates may be the MOST heart-healthy food, but we argue that growing your own kale is even more beneficial due to these additional benefits. Don’t know how to grow your own? Register for our 2-day Urban Farming Workshop!
We’ve compiled a list of the top heart-healthy vegetables and fruits that you can grow yourself here in New England.
One cup broccoli contains 5 grams of fiber, polyphenols, and is loaded with vitamins and minerals (such as folate). Polyphenols play an important role in preventing degenerative diseases and cancers. Kale provides more vitamin C than an orange, along with rich amounts of fiber and vitamin A; a true ‘superfood’! Brussels sprouts are a great source of folic acid, fiber and other nutrients, such as calcium, vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C. Broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts are cruciferous vegetables, along with cauliflower, cabbage, and bok choy.
Swiss chard is loaded with potassium and magnesium. Just 1 cup of it gives you 25 percent of the potassium you need each day. Dark leafy green vegetables, including salad greens, Swiss chard, spinach, collard greens, turnip greens and mustard greens, provide many heart-health benefits.
The high antioxidant content of blueberries facilitates cognitive functioning and reduces risk of heart disease. Blackberries are high in fiber and the same polyphenol found in green tea, which helps reduce your risk for heart disease and forms of cancer. Raspberries are a top fiber source among berries, supplying 8 grams per cup, as well as ample vitamin C and manganese.
Tomatoes are prime sources of the antioxidant lycopene. Tomatoes are also high in vitamin C and fiber.
Apples contain a variety of potent antioxidants such as quercetin, catechin, phloridzin and chlorogenic acid, and plenty of fiber.
Asparagus contains vitamin B6, which lowers homocysteine, a form of amino acid that is linked to heart disease.
Bell peppers contain folate, another nutrient that reduces homocysteine.
Carrots are rich in carotenoids, which are powerful antioxidants that combat free radicals that cause heart disease.
Garlic contains phytochemicals that boost immunity and protect the heart against diseases.
Onions are a rich source of sulphur-containing phytochemicals. These phytochemicals reduce cholesterol levels and prevent heart disease.