In today’s increasingly health-conscious world, more and more people are choosing to grow and harvest their own vegetables or at least procure them from local growers. The farm to table process has numerous benefits, including the increased amount of nutrients in vegetables that have been consumed this way. Here are three practices to ensure that you are maximizing the nutrient density of your vegetables.
Maintaining Nutrient Dense Soil
The cornerstone of nutritious vegetables is the soil in which it is nurtured as it grows. Mulching, remineralization, and cover crops replenish the soil, making these practices important steps in the process of growing vegetables that are rich in nutrients. Composting is also an easy way to recycle your organic waste in a way that benefits current crops. Planting a cover crop will feed the soil and boost its fertility for future growing seasons. The addition of livestock manures can also increase the nutritional component of your soil. Lastly, it is a good idea to build paths through the garden to restrict foot traffic that could possibly deplete the soil.
Consuming at Peak Freshness
Once you have cultivated the soil to grow the most nutrient-dense vegetables, it is important that you not waste these efforts and consume the produce at anything but its peak freshness. Eating vegetables that are plucked straight from the earth boosts the availability of the vitamins and minerals that are present in the food. As a bonus, it also tastes better. You will also enjoy the natural nutrients of the produce if it is locally grown because it does not have to travel to reach you.
Many people erroneously believe that vegetables that are consumed raw deliver the biggest nutritional punch. While this is true of some types of veggies, there are certain types that actually release more nutrients if they are slightly cooked. Vegetables that benefit from cooking include tomatoes, carrots, and sweet potatoes. The bioavailability increases during the cooking process, meaning that your body is able to process the nutrients more easily. You can get the most out of your vegetables by keeping the water that you cook it in and using it to make a stock for future use.
There is nothing as delicious as homegrown vegetables. You can increase the health benefits by taking steps to ensure that the maximum amount of nutrients are reaching your body in meaningful ways.
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