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12 superfoods you should grow in your garden

Make your harvest healthier with these nutrient-rich vegetables.

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The word “superfood” has been bandied back and forth for quite awhile now even though it has no legal or medical definition. According to, these nutrient powerhouses pack large doses of antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins and minerals. Eating them may reduce the risk of chronic disease, prolong life, make you look younger and definitely make you healthier than those who don’t eat superfoods.

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You can ramp up the nutritional benefits even more by planting superfoods in your backyard garden. Taking these products from garden to table in a matter of minutes gives you the freshest food available and gives the most health benefits possible.

We’ve compiled a list of superfoods that can be grown easily, where they grow and what they can do for you healthwise. Gardening has been traditionally broken down into zones. Burpee, the seed company, offers this map of zones. Enter your zip code to reveal the growing zone where you live, then you’ll know which superfoods grow best in your climate.

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1. Kale

Blend in smoothies, bake into chips, put in soups or add to salad greens. This vegetable is loaded with fiber and antioxidants; it fights cancer and absorbs free radicals.

Tip: Grows best in zones 8 through 10.

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2. Microgreens

These seeds are usually a combination of greens and herbs that you harvest within 14 days. That way they have a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals, possibly as much as six times the nutrients as the full-grown variety. Choose from Microgreens Milk Mix, Mild Micro Mix, Spicy Micro Mix and others.

Tip: Grows best in greenhouses, protected areas, containers and window boxes.

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3. Blueberries

Types include small, deciduous, semi-green, tall and others. Said to lower your risk of heart disease and cancer because of their antioxidants and phytoflavinoids. Blueberries also may keep you sharp mentally.

Tip: Grows best in zones 5 through 10.

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4. Sunchokes

Sometimes called Jerusalem Artichokes, these are edible tubers. When you harvest sunchokes, leave a few tubers in the soil and you’ll have a new crop next year. Full of potassium, magnesium and iron which keep your heart healthy, these tasty tubers also contain the vitamins needed for healthy skin, eyes and hair.

Tip: Grows best in zones 4 through 9.

Sweet Potatoes
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5. Sweet Potatoes

Bake it like a potato, add butter and cinnamon for your starchy vegetable at dinner. According to nutritionists at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the sweet potato outranks all other vegetables as the most nutritious. They are crammed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.

Tip: Grows best in zones 8 through 10.

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6. Pumpkins

You can grow different sized pumpkins, from two pounds to one hundred pounds, if you have enough room. Both the flesh and the seeds have good nutritional value. One half-cup serving of pumpkin gives you more than the daily requirement of alpha-carotene. The seeds are a valued source of zinc, which helps the immune system in fighting off viruses.

Tip: Grows best in most zones.

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7. Beets

Another vegetable with more than one edible part. We typically devour the root, but the leaves have healthy benefits, too. Even though beets have a high sugar content, you can still eat them several times a week. They’ll lower your blood pressure, increase stamina, ward off inflammation and the greens contain protein, phosphorus, zinc, fiber, vitamin B6 and a host of other nutrients.

Tip: Grows best in most zones, however, in zones 8 and higher, plant in the fall.

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8. Cabbage

Start indoors or plant seeds. Use in stir fries, slaw, soup or ferment into Kimchi or sauerkraut. Cabbage provides antioxidants to help prevent cancer, gives you energy and keeps your skin from aging prematurely.

Tip: Grows best in zones 3 and higher.

Chia Seeds
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9. Chia Seeds

Remember Chia Pets? It turns out those seeds have joined the world of superfoods. They germinate two to three weeks after planting, then you dry the pods and remove the seeds from the pods. A member of the mint family, Chia seeds are filled with omega-3 fatty acids, known to stabilize blood sugar and lower cholesterol.

Tip: Grows best in zones 9 and 10.

Sunflower Seeds
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10. Sunflower Seeds

The flower itself is quite hardy, grows very tall and is drought-tolerant. The seeds have significant amounts of magnesium and vitamin E in them, making them good for healthy bones, preventing heart disease and safeguarding the skin.

Tip: Grows best in all zones.

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11. Peppermint

Stir into hot tea, blend into smoothies and add to casseroles for a kick of flavor and boost to your health. High in chlorophyll, peppermint also helps the endocrine system to its job. Pick leaves frequently.

Tip: Grows best in zones 3 and higher.

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12. Parsley

The days of parsley as a garnish should be gone. We need to eat the parsley. Make pesto with it, mix into hot tea or add to tossed green salads. It’s full of vitamin C, vitamin B12, vitamin K and A. Parsley helps build strong bones, heals your nervous system and gives you relief from joint pain.

Tip: Grows best in zones 3 through 9.

Editor's Note

This article was originally published on October 7, 2015.
April 21, 2017

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