Increasing health benefits in vegetables
Extension identifies which vegetable varieties have the highest potential for benefitting human health, and helps growers learn natural methods to increase that potential.
Did you know you can make the produce you grow even healthier, with just a few changes in how you garden?
"Cancer-fighting phytonutrients are part of a plant's own system to fend off disease and insect attack," says University of Minnesota Extension horticulturist Vince Fritz. "The plant produces more of these natural chemicals when it's under stress."
Adding a little stress is something you can do in your home garden. Fritz is developing tips on how to do that, along with recommendations about vegetable variety. This information has been available to commercial food producers in the past but will reach home gardeners via the Extension website this winter.
Choosing the right varieties is the first step in growing healthier foods. Specific phytonutrients—glucocsinolates, for example, have also been shown to reduce cancer risk in animal models and are available in higher concentrations in some varieties.
Fritz has continued to work with other researchers to determine which cruciferous vegetable varieties—such as cabbages and broccoli—have the most potential to defend against cancerous tumors and other disease.
Strategies for increasing phytonutrients in your produce may include different planting dates, soil fertility, plant spacing, light quality and water. Watch for more information to come on the Extension website before the next growing season begins.