An assortment of carrots from Leslie and John Cox’s garden. Photo by Leslie Cox

An assortment of carrots from Leslie and John Cox’s garden. Photo by Leslie Cox

DUCHESS OF DIRT: Harvest time for your good health

By Leslie Cox

Special to the Record

Harvesting the bounty from our garden certainly makes us appreciate the goodness it has produced.

Who can dispute the incredible fresh flavour straight from the garden to the table? And nothing better for our bodies than the beneficial nutrients they supply. So important for the older family members… as well as the youngsters.

Scientific studies abound to support just how important certain foods are for warding off many of the aging pitfalls the baby boomer generation is encountering. And many of those foods come from our vegetable and herb gardens.

You must remember the Popeye cartoons of our youth, and all that spinach he ate to give himself the strength to bust his way out of trouble. Well, there is more than a little truth in the miraculous powers of spinach. Try about 20 vitamins and minerals, along with a nice balance of omega-3 fatty acids, protein and fibre all wrapped up in a single cup of deliciousness. So much goodness for your body and only 41 calories. Without that dollop of dressing, of course.

Collard greens and Swiss chard are also way up there in nutritional value with 18 and 21 vitamins and minerals, respectively. They both have protein and fibre as well, but Swiss chard lacks omega-3 fatty acids.

When it comes to helping maintain healthy bones, spinach is one of the best. One cup of cooked leaves contains over 1,000 per cent percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin K, a major good guy in fighting off osteoporosis.

Failing eyesight? Carrots, of course! But do not forget to vary that diet with bell peppers, broccoli, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes and spinach, which all contain good minerals and vitamins for maintaining healthy eyes. But beware you are not eating too many carrots because you will definitely turn a light shade of orange from all that beta-carotene. Seriously.

This happened to my youngest son when he was 4 or 5. He craved carrots as his go-to snack food at that age and who was I to argue? But I had to seriously ration his daily intake when I noticed an alarming shade of orange develop in his skin tone.

One good, non-food, advice for your eyes… stop staring at the computer screen for hours. Look away for a few seconds on a regular basis and take 15-minute breaks every two hours, as recommended by eye specialists.

Need to speed up your metabolism or have problems with your bowel? Eat those vegetables that are high in fibre. These include cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, beets and squash to name a few.

Eating these vegetables make your digestive system work hard, which in turn increases your metabolic rate. And their high fibre content is very beneficial to your bowel.

Thinking about that next trip to the dentist? Eat a handful of raisins daily. Various studies have determined raisins actually lower the pH level in the mouth and inhibit certain harmful bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease.

Of special note to baby boomer generation women: eat your cabbage! It raises your estrogen levels, a very important and healthy factor for us.

Oh yes, and the herb garden. Who knew basil protected cell structure against radiation? Or that oregano was such a great antibacterial and antioxidant source, as well as a nutrient-dense source of fibre?

And don’t forget to liberally sprinkle rosemary and sage in your soups, stews and the stuffing for your Thanksgiving turkey for the boost they will give to your cognitive powers.

All this and more. So, give thanks for the bounty you reaped from your garden and be thankful for the health benefits your harvest will provide you in the months ahead.

Leslie Cox co-owns Growing Concern Cottage Garden in Black Creek. Her website is at www.duchessofdirt.ca

Comox Valleygardening

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