11th April 2012
You might have read about 'superfoods' in the newspapers (Daily Express seem to love a good front page health story) and magazines. These are certain foods that are believed to offer great health benefits that can protect against disease and make you feel great.
The great news is quite a few of these superfoods can be grown in your own garden or at your allotment, so you can get a cheap fresh supply. Step aside superman and wonderwoman!
Tomatoes are easier to grow than you might think, and they don't even require a greenhouse. Just put them in a sunny spot in grow bags or containers and they will give you a harvest of these little juicy red health bombs. There has been a lot of research into the potential benefits of eating tomatoes. Rich in vitamin C, A, K and Pottasium they are thought to help ward off cancers and reduce the risk of heart disease. The magic ingredient seems to be lycopene, which is what makes the tomatoes red. It is mentioned time and time again in articles about the health benefits of tomatoes.
Tomazing is a cherry tomato plant that will produce up to 500 tomatoes per plant. Great in salads, sandwiches etc. 10 plants in 5cm pots £14.98 from Van Meuwen CLICK HERE
It is thought polyphenols in apples can help regulate blood sugar levels. It is also one of the only foods linked to reducing the risk of asthma and lung cancer in medical research.Most of the goodness is in the actual peel not the pulp, so try and enjoy your apples with the skins still on.
The wonders of grafting mean it is possible to grow two types of apple on one tree. Don't worry this is simply an old horticultural method of taking two types of branches and literally fusing them together with them becoming attached to the main stem. So it's not some freaky chemical induced wonder. The self pollinating duo tree will produce Golden Delicious and Elstar apples and it's an ideal for a small or medium sized garden. Van Mewen £19.99 CLICK HERE
Packed full of nutrients, spinach is a great source of Iron which helps carries oxygen to cells in the body, resulting in high energy levels. It's also a very good source of protein, phosphorus, vitamin E and zinc. Lutein found in spinach is said to reduce the chance of eye diseases such as macular degeneration.
Spinach 'Medina' is a reliable spinach to grow. You can use the thinnings in salads, and the larger leaves for boiling or steaming. They can also be kept in the freezer so you can have a healthy boost mid winter. 750 seeds just £2.09 from Thompson & Morgan CLICK HERE
OK, now I can tell you're excited! Sounds pretty exotic eh? They originate from the Himalayas, so yes that means they grow no problem in the UK, with its less than exotic climate.
They have one of the highest levels of vitamin C in any type of fruit and beta carotene levels that are higher weight for weight than carrots. There is also claims they are good for male sexual function. Woah there, easy tiger! You can eat them from the bush, in smoothies or dry them and eat them like raisins.
Self pollinating and adaptable will cope well with dry conditions and once mature will tolerate minus 15c temperatures. 1 plant in 9cm pot from Thompson & Morgan £9.49 CLICK HERE
Nuts are a great protein source and hazelnuts are no different. Hazelnuts also contain proanthocyanidins, this is the same nutrient that gives red wine and green tea their health benefits. They are a good source of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that good for heart health and cholesterol levels.
Hazelnut 'Kentish Cob' is considered one of the most reliable types of Hazelnut tree to grow in Britain. They grow to about 3 metres, (9ft) and are self pollinating , which means you do not need to have two trees for pollination and for the nuts to grow. £22.99 from Thompson & Morgan CLICK HERE
Broccoli has become well known for its reputed anti cancer properties. Purple broccoli contains phytochemical sulphoraphane which is thought to be the 'magic' ingredient. Broccoli is also a good source of caretenoids, vitamin C, iron, folic acid, calcium, fibre and vitamin A. Good for the skin, stomach, eyes and heart.
Garden Bargains sell 12 ready to plant purple broccoli plants for £6.99
A lot of types of beans and pulses have high protein levels. Runner beans less so, but they are a great source of vitamin K which is good for bone health and can help prevent Osteoporosis. They are also a good source of fibre.
Runner bean 'prizewinner' produces loads of medium sized pods, with a good taste. Garden bargains sell seeds for £1.75 CLICK HERE
Blueberries are one of the best known 'superfoods'. There has been various medical studies indicating blueberries have anti cancer properties. For example, a medical research project at Ohio State university in 2010 found that mice with tumours that had been given blueberry extract lived twice as long as mice that had not, and the tumours were found to be 60% smaller.
Thompson & Morgan do a three variety collection for an extended growing season. Berries can also be stored in the freezer for winter use. 3 plants in 9cm pots, 19.98, 1.5 ltr pots £29.99 and 3 ltr pots £39.99. Will grow to 1.7 metres. CLICK HERE
A great aspect of growing the superfoods rather than buying them is they will be totally fresh and if you lay off the chemicals totally organic. For example dried Goji berries can be bought at the supermarket, no doubt shipped from the other side of the world. If they do have great health benefits it is likely you will capture the benefits more effectively in berries freshly picked from a bush the day you eat them.