Be Intentional When Planting Your Home Garden: Gain Health Benefits by Growing Your Own Nutrition Powerhouse! By Kate Przybycien

Fruits and vegetables have been in the public eye for years because of their nutritional benefits. What is it about these plant-based products that give us positive health outcomes? In addition to the vitamins and minerals they provide, researchers have been making advancements to find more answers. What they are discovering is that plant- based foods are high in phytochemicals; (pronounced "fight-o-chemicals").

Phytochemicals were unknown until a few years ago, but their discovery is recognized as being as important to that of vitamins. These non-nutritive, plant- based chemicals give fruits and vegetables their flavor, odor, and color. More than 900+ different phytochemicals have been found in plant foods. For instance, lycopene is found in pink and red fruits and vegetables. A phytochemical group called carotenoids are found in dark orange, yellow, and leafy green fruits, and vegetables (1, 2, 3).

According to the American Institute of Cancer Research, once we eat fruits and vegetables, they can positively influence the chemical processes in our bodies in helpful ways. Findings from laboratory studies have shown that phytochemicals have the potential to:

This season, when planting your own nutritional powerhouse garden, remember to choose fruits and vegetables based on color. Favor brightly colored or strongly flavored fruits and vegetables, as these are often the best sources of phytochemicals!

in Tennessee
Source of Vitamins B & K, Biotin, Fiber, Potassium, Thiamin May to June
Source of Vitamins A, B, & C, Fiber, Potassium, Iron, Phosphorous Mid- June to mid- October
Source of Vitamins A, C, E, & K, Fiber, Omega- 3 Fatty Acids, Iron, Zinc May to early June
Source of Vitamins A & C, Fiber, Phosphorous, Potassium, Calcium, Folate Mid- June to November
Source of Vitamins C & B6, Folic Acid, Potassium, Calcium, Biotin, May to mid- November
Source of Vitamins A, B, C, E, & K, Folic Acid, Potassium, Iron, Zinc October to May
Source of Vitamins B & C, Biotin, Fiber, Calcium, Folic Acid, Potassium May to August
Source of Vitamins A, B, C, & E, Fiber
June to September

Kate Przybycien currently is a dietetic intern at Vanderbilt Medical Center, originally from Michigan. She moved to Nashville after completing a bachelor's degree in Nutritional Sciences at Colorado State University in May 2011.