Enjoy the benefits of plant power

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Despite the late April snow storm, planting season is about to arrive. We will soon have the opportunity to enjoy blooming flowers, budding trees and fresh veggies.

Beyond their aesthetic value and nourishment qualities, plants have other powers to help bring balance in other areas of life. When you start your potted plants and gardening goods this spring and summer, try a few of these greens to help you support a healthy lifestyle.

Anti-inflammatory power: If you struggle with inflammation, try adding basil to your diet. Basil contains a specific type of oil that blocks inflammatory enzymes. Try adding basil to a fresh salad or tomato-based sauce. It’s also a nice companion for tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and balsamic vinegar. Basil is also thought to act as a de-stressor due to its inviting scent.

Cancer fighting agents: Rosemary is thought to help fight carcinogens due to its antioxidant powers. Rosemary is a low-maintenance, easy-to-grow herb that can be utilized inside the home. It’s pleasing scent and bright flavor makes it a great compliment to baked dishes, pork, chicken and whole grain breads.

Much like rosemary, garlic and scallions are also considered cancer-fighting greens. Both garlic and scallions are part of the allium family of vegetables, which has been associated with fighting free radical damage and reducing cancer risk. Both of these plants are easy to grow and yield delicious results.

Digestive health: Mint is believed to soothe digestive issues and relieve indigestion symptoms. Mint plants are easy to grow in a barrel and require little maintenance. When they are ready to harvest, take the leaves and add them to tea — iced or cold. For a twist, try planting hybrid versions such as strawberry-mint, chocolate mint (yum) and orange-mint.

Great greens: Finding fresh lettuce in rural areas is a challenge during certain times of the year. This year, try planting spinach, green leaf lettuce or other varieties of greens to take advantage of this natural source of folate, vitamin A, C and K.

Sleep soundly: If you struggle to catch enough winks of quality sleep at night, try placing a Jasmine plant in your bedroom. Jasmine’s fragrant blossoms and exotic scent promote a calming sensation and can do wonders to support better sleep. For other benefits, such as immune system support, try Jasmine tea.

Take some time to think about what healthy benefits you feel you are missing and research a natural plant source of relief. Bonus — gardening is a form of activity, so you’ll burn some calories while you plant and harvest the fruits of your labor. There’s nothing quite as satisfying (and cost effective) as shopping for dinner in your own backyard.

Please note, if you are taking medications, please remember to consult your primary care physician before making any changes to your diet. Certain plants and herbs can interact with medications rendering them ineffective.

Dr. Erin Nitschke is a health and human performance educator, NSCA Certified Personal Trainer, and ACE Health Coach & Fitness Nutrition Specialist. To contact Nitschke, email erinmd03@gmail.com.  Center Stage is written by friends of the Senior Center for the Sheridan Community. It is a collection of insights and stories related to living well at every age.

By |May 1st, 2017|

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