Plants: Partners in Health?

family gardening

Is there anything more delicious and nutritious than vine-ripened tomatoes, just-harvested peaches and corn, or fresh herbs and spices? Growing your own edible plants—whether in a backyard garden or a few pots on your windowsill—can be fun, rewarding, and healthful. If you share your garden’s bounty with friends and neighbors, you might even expand your social connections and spread the health around.

Did you know that Gardening has many health benefits? It allows you to get outside, get active, and sit less- which might help reduce stress. Gardening can also help improve your diet if you eat more fruits and vegetable. Fruits and vegetables are packed with fiber and essential vitamins and minerals. Research has shown that eating fruits and vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet can reduce your risk for long-term diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer. The fiber in fruits and vegetables can help relieve constipation and normalize your bowel movements. Fruits and vegetables may also help reduce your calorie intake—especially if they’re replacing high-calorie, high-fat foods—to help you control your weight. Herbs can add rich and interesting flavors to your meals without adding calories.

Gardening might enhance your mental health as well. Some studies have found that being physically active in natural environments—or even simple exposure to nature—can improve mood, reduce anxiety, and enhance self-esteem. Growing your own vegetables and digging into the dirt can increase physical activity and give one a feeling a well-being and a sense of connection to the earth.

Also, don’t forget to include your entire family in your gardening adventures, especially children! Children can also benefit from growing and caring for edible plants. Some studies have found that kids involved with gardening programs tend to make healthier food choices, eat more fruits and vegetables, and have improved social skills.

*This is an abridged article from the National Institute of Health. To read more about the health benefits of gardening, you can read the full NIH article here.