When it comes to getting my five-a-day, I’m more than happy to believe that I’m reaping health benefits by growing my own, burning calories as I dig, weed and water.
There is even evidence that I’m helping to control my blood pressure as I relax and unwind, until, that is, I see the damage ravaged by slugs and snails.
At the moment I choose what to grow based on taste, the likelihood of getting a good crop and my own personal preferences. I like to eat a wide range of fruit and veg and greatly enjoy how fresh it is. But should I have more of an eye to my health when flicking through the seed catalogues or pushing my trolley round the supermarket?
I already grow garlic and tomatoes to make a zingy pasta sauce, but can it help my family ward off a cold? I love growing beetroot not only for the roots but for the leaves which I wilt like spinach, but should I be more interested in the chance that it may control my blood pressure? Do I boil or microwave my carrots to preserve the most nutrients?
The truth behind the claims
In Which? Gardening we’ve taken an in-depth look at the claims behind the headlines and tried to pick out sensible responses. We examined the ‘five-a-day’ rule and found solid research to suggest the more fruit and veg you eat, the better.
We also asked ourselves whether you should microwave or boil your veg, eat fresh or frozen. This turned out to be much more of a mixed bag as some vegetables are best microwaved as the quick cooking time preserves nutrients, while carrots are healthier when boiled as more carotene is preserved.
As to fresh or frozen, it all comes down to the time from harvest to freezing, how it is packaged and the nature of the crop itself: frozen lettuce, anyone?
However, this still leaves me wondering the best way to put into practice those messages that can be backed up scientifically. What are your favourite ways to get more fruit and veg on your plate? How do you break the habit of shopping for and buying the same things every week?
As a gardener, what are your favourite things to grow? Have you grown anything unusual that you found was delicious and easy to grow?