It’s no secret that plant-based foods are important to a healthy diet. While they don’t technically “boost” your immune system from day to day, they play a key role in supporting a healthy immune system in the long run. Even though most of us grew up hearing how crucial they are to “growing up big and strong,” it can be tough fitting in all our recommended servings. I don’t think we’re skipping our veggies on purpose; life gets busy, sometimes we don’t pick up enough at the store, or we get stumped on how to use what we’ve got in the fridge.
If you struggle to get enough of these natural immune system boosters into your diet, having a fresh supply on-hand all summer long can influence you to eat more of the good stuff. It’s easier to remember what you have growing in your garden than to recall what’s sitting at the back of your fridge, and the taste of a garden-fresh crop is so much more appealing. Better yet, veggies contain their peak amounts of nutrients when freshly picked, so growing your own pays dividends for your health. Here are some of the most nutritious, immune-boosting edible plants to grow in Guelph!
Eat Your Veggies!
Mom was right; getting enough vegetables in your diet is an absolute must for staying healthy and strong. All veggies have a lot of nutritional value, but these ones offer the most “bang for your buck” if you’re working with limited garden space.
Broccoli is extremely nutrient-dense and also contains some plant-based protein. Many people don’t know that the broccoli stem is just as edible (and yummy!) as the florets; you can chop it up to throw into stir-frys, or grate them to include in omelettes, potato pancakes, or vegetable fritters.
Brussels sprouts are similar to broccoli as they’re also cruciferous vegetables and share many of the same health benefits. Anyone who claims not to like Brussels sprouts has probably never tried them fried with a little bacon—it adds a little extra fat to your meal, but it’s a flavour game-changer.
Kale and Spinach are both fast-growing greens that are super easy to include in your diet. Both kale and spinach can be eaten in salads, tossed into pasta dishes, or blended into your green smoothies!
Bell Peppers are some of the tastiest veggies to marinate and grill—great for adding some nutrition to your lazy summer barbeque nights! Bell peppers are loaded with essential vitamins and minerals.
Berries are full of antioxidants, packing a ton of immune system support into a small package! These ones are your best options for both flavour and health benefits.
Goji Berries are so packed with vitamins and minerals, that the dried berries are often added to oatmeals, cereals, and granola bars to increase the recipe’s nutritional value. The flavour of the Goji berry is delightful—a little sweet and a little tart!
Blackberries are very productive shrubs, so you can snack on their yummy berries with abandon. Their richly-coloured fruits have very high levels of antioxidants, which are compounds that fight free radicals in the bloodstream and help to protect your body from certain diseases. The Baby Cakes variety is thornless and ideal for households with young kids.
Blueberries are some of the most popular berries in North America thanks to their rich, sweet taste and their high levels of healthy antioxidants. The Pink Icing variety is a favourite for its flavorful berries and beauty as an ornamental shrub.
Currants are rich in polyphenols, which help the body fight disease. They are also very high in antioxidants, indicated by their deep, dark colour. Currants and make excellent berries for baking, particularly in scones or muffins.
Elderberries are another berry rich in vitamins and antioxidants. They’re also known to have anti-viral properties, which is not a substitute for a vaccine but can help your body fend off nasty bugs. Elderberry is having a bit of a “moment” right now because its healthy berries have a unique taste compared to other berries of their size. The tree is also highly ornamental, especially during its spring bloom period. Elderberries are commonly used for making syrups and liqueurs.
Honeyberries look a little odd with their oblong fruits, but boy, are they good for you! They contain very high levels of anthocyanins, which have benefits for the whole body. Honeyberries also contain lots of vitamin C and fibre, and they taste amazing—a little like a cross between a raspberry and a blueberry.
Fantastic Fruit Trees
Getting enough fruit is just as important as getting in your daily servings of vegetables when it comes to supporting overall health.
Citrus trees need to be grown in pots here in Ontario, as they aren’t well-adapted to our winter climate. However, there is ample evidence of the health benefits of citrus fruits like lemon and oranges thanks to their very high levels of vitamin C. The juice can also act as a natural cleaning agent to keep your surfaces germ-free!
Apples are very high in dietary fibre and essential nutrients like potassium and vitamin C. If you can’t choose just one variety of apple to grow, we now have special trees with four apple varieties grafted onto a single trunk!
Cherries are packed with nutrients and can help support good sleep—a very important factor for overall wellness! We also carry a 4-in-1 cherry tree so you can sample several different varieties and only plant once.
When it comes to getting your daily servings, variety is essential. We offer delivery service within most towns and cities surrounding Guelph, so you can get the healthy veggies, berries, and fruits you need without worrying about making room in the car! Curbside pickup is also available if you prefer to stop by and say “hello.” May you eat well, and stay well!