7 Great Vegetables to Grow Indoors

If you have an indoor garden, you might be interested in the list of the best vegetables you can grow indoors today. Then you can transfer them to the ground when the weather warms up or you can keep them in pots on your patio. In fact, it’s a great idea to grow vegetables indoors because we should eat them every day to get all the necessary nutrients we need to be healthy. Here are seven great vegetables to grow indoors.

1. Mushrooms
One of the best vegetables to grow indoors is mushrooms, which are an excellent source of vitamin D. You can purchase a special soil that has the makings for a fresh batch of healthy mushrooms. To get the best results, keep your mushrooms in a cool dark place. It’s so simple, isn’t it?

2. Lettuce
Typically lettuce grows in compact small bundles, so I think it’s not difficult to keep a few pots of it in your sunroom or kitchen. I love mixing different varieties of lettuce in the same pot. For instance, I mix spinach with arugula. You can also buy mixed greens and plant them in a big pot. One of the best things about lettuce is that it can regenerate so feel free to snip it for your healthy salad.

3. Beans and peas
Bean and pea plants are not big and it’s easy to grow them in the house. You can grow them up in your sunroom, and when summer comes move them outdoors. Don’t forget to set up the trellis. The great news is that many bean and pea plants look amazingly decorative and they can add to your décor during the spring.

4. Carrots
Since carrots grow under the soil you will need a very deep pot. Keep a pot of carrots in your kitchen for a delicious snack that is high in essential nutrients and low in calories. The awesome thing about carrots is that you can grow them year round. Just make sure you keep the containers in a warm area. You can also grow carrots in troughs.

5. Potatoes
Potatoes are probably my favorite vegetable I grow indoors. It’s not hard to grow potatoes in buckets or large pots in your house. But, it’s better to seed them in the containers, and when the weather gets warmer replant your potatoes outdoors. I suggest trying different kinds of potatoes to jazz up your favorite recipes.

6. Tomatoes
Tomatoes are another great vegetable you can grow indoors, especially if your windows are sunny and they face south. Opt for smaller varieties, such as cherry, pear or grape tomatoes that will not take up much space as traditional tomatoes. Since tomatoes like sun and warmth, make sure your kitchen or sunroom is always warm.

7. Green onions
Green onions are rich in beta-carotene, zeaxanthin and lutein and they are one of the best foods to eat every day. Save the white ends with the hairs on the end and plant them into a little pot. Put the roots down, surround with dirt and add water to it. Don’t worry, they’ll regrow on their own. Remember, green onions need a lot of water, so keep your eyes on them.

Start growing the above veggies and enjoy fresh produce every day. Do you grow any vegetables indoors? Share your tips with us, please.

10 Best Antioxidant-Rich Foods

We’ve all been told to consume more foods that are high in antioxidants to achieve optimal health, but do you know which food is rich in powerful antioxidants? In fact, there are many antioxidant-rich foods that you can add to your diet, and below is the list of the best ones that can really benefit your health. Antioxidants are essential for us because they protect us from disease, combat the free radicals in the body and slow the aging process. When you have low antioxidant levels, oxidative stress can happen, making you more susceptible to a great number of diseases including cancer and heart disease. To keep your immune system strong and your body healthy, you should eat an abundance of foods that are high in antioxidants every day. The common antioxidants include beta-carotene, vitamin A, selenium, vitamin E, vitamin C, polyphenols and flavonoids. Read on to discover some of the best antioxidant-rich foods.

1. Beans
One of the best antioxidant-rich foods to add to your eating plan is beans. Beans are an excellent source of fiber and powerful antioxidants your body needs to stay healthy. I suggest you to consume red beans, which contain the highest levels of antioxidants. You can add them to your salads, soups, stews and pasta dishes.

2. Berries
Not only do berries taste great, but they also help prevent a number of diseases. While blueberries are small in size, they boast plenty of health benefits. They can improve your cognitive abilities and boost your immune system. Strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and cranberries are great sources of antioxidants as well. Try adding them to your yogurt or oatmeal for a huge health boost.

3. Dark chocolate
I’m sure many of you are happy to see your favorite dark chocolate on this list. Yes, dark chocolate is high in potent antioxidants and it can reduce your blood pressure. When it comes to chocolate, even the dark one, you should eat it in moderation. It’s not recommended to consume white and milk chocolate since they don’t have the same health benefits.

4. Apples
Everyone knows the saying, ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away,’ but many people often forget about this amazing fruit. Apples are loaded with essential vitamins and powerful antioxidants and they make a great portable snack that will satisfy your sweet tooth in no time. You can also add apples to your fruit salad, smoothies, or even make an apple pie. Opt for red apples, which have the highest levels of antioxidants.

5. Artichokes
Perhaps you are surprised to see artichokes on the list of the best antioxidant-rich foods, but it’s actually no wonder. Artichokes are packed with powerful antioxidants and they deliver a great amount of essential vitamins to the body. You can use artichoke hearts in your salad or as a healthy topping on your vegetable pizza.

6. Potatoes
Although it’s always said to avoid consuming potatoes, especially if you are trying to lose weight, it’s good to incorporate some potatoes into your diet. You can bake up some potatoes and add them to your dinner or you can add some color to your plate with antioxidant-rich mashed sweet potatoes. Just don’t load your meal up with sour cream and butter.

7. Carrots
There are many reasons to eat carrots daily and one of them is because they are rich in beta-carotene that helps the body produce essential vitamin A and combat cancer. Carrots are also great for your eyes and they can even improve your sight. Add them to your vegetable salads, soups, stews, stir-fry, or eat them raw.

8. Red wine and red grapes
Grapes, especially red grapes, are also packed with powerful antioxidants. Red wine (when consumed in moderation!) and red grapes are high in heart healthy polyphenols and flavonoids. But it doesn’t mean you can drink the whole bottle of red wine daily in order to fill your body with more antioxidants. Drink it in moderation, or better, eat some red grapes.

9. Pecans
Pecans are high in a powerful antioxidant that can help to prevent inflammation in the arteries. The thing is, consuming pecans raises the amount of healthy antioxidants in the body, which is essential in helping to prevent development of numerous diseases including heart disease and cancer. Add some chopped pecans to your oatmeal, snack on roasted pecans or eat them raw.

10. Black plums
While red plums are delicious, black plums are higher in powerful antioxidants than red ones. These antioxidants help the body fight a great number of diseases. Black plums are also low in calories and fat free. Add black plums to your smoothies, juices, fruit salads, puree them for quick and tasty fruit sorbet, or make an old-fashioned plum cake. Black plums make a perfect lunch box treat as well. Just make sure you don’t peel your plums since most of the antioxidants contained in plums are found within the skin.

Sure, there are no definite guarantees that you can prevent cancer or other diseases by simply consuming antioxidant-rich foods, but you can significantly lower the risk of developing these diseases. What’s your favorite antioxidant-rich food?

Spill the Beans: Are They Healthy Or Not?

Beans, Beans, good for your heart…

To quote a favorite saying among male classmates when I was in second grade. This quote claims that beans are good for your heart, among other things.

Not that we can put any stock in a childhood saying, of course, but the general consensus in the health community is that beans are, in general, a “health” food and that when combined with rice, form a perfect protein for vegetarians.

Beans show up in some form in many different cultures and countries, though preparation methods vary vastly. Americans, for our part, get most of our bean consumption from soy and soy products.

Peanuts, technically also a legume and not a nut, also make up a substantial part of our bean consumption, and are also a rapidly rising allergy, especially among children.

What’s In A Bean?

Beans contain a lot of soluble fiber, protein, carbohydrates, folate and iron. They also contain Lectins, which are also present in high amounts in grains. Because of their protein content, beans (legumes) often get a primary role in the diet of vegetarians, though not without cost.

The lectins in legumes are an important protective measure for the bean plant, and a potentially harmful one for humans. Before the dawn of genetically modified disease resistant soybeans (gee, thanks Monsanto) and their corresponding toxic pesticides and herbicides, legume plants were actually quite able to defend themselves.

What do Lectins Do?

Lectins are specific proteins that bind to carbohydrates, and exist in plants in varying levels as a protective mechanism. When animals who are not adapted to consuming particular types of lectins eat them, they will experience pain or death.

This reaction is not absent in humans, as I mentioned when I explained why grains can be so harmful. As Wikipedia explains, one example of lectin reaction in humans:

Some kinds of raw beans and especially red and kidney beans, contain a harmful toxin (the lectin Phytohaemagglutinin) that must be destroyed by cooking. A recommended method is to boil the beans for at least ten minutes; undercooked beans may be more toxic than raw beans.[8] Cooking beans in a slow cooker, because of the lower temperatures often used, may not destroy toxins even though the beans do not smell or taste ‘bad’[8] (though this should not be a problem if the food reaches boiling and stays there for some time).

At the extreme, lectins are potent enough to be a biological warfare agent as in the case of ricin. Ricin is a lectin isolated in the castor oil bean and it acts on certain protein cells, allowing the ricin to enter the cell and prevent protein synthesis, eventually leading to cell death.

Obviously, some lectins have more toxic effects than others, as evidenced by the example above, but all lectins have some effect on the body. This is the reason that grains, beans, and other lectin containing foods cannot be eaten raw.

Lectins are capable of harming the lining of the intestines, especially the microvilli. This happens when the lectins bind to the protein receptors in the intestinal lining, causing damage.

When the intestines are damaged, lectins, and the foods that they bind to, can pass through the intestinal wall and into the blood stream. These sticky molecules can then wreak havoc in the bloodstream.

Once lectins are floating around in the bloodstream, they can bind to any carbohydrate containing protein cells, including insulin and leptin receptors, desensitizing them. Without proper insulin and leptin function, problems like diabetes and metabolic syndrome can emerge. It is speculated that lectins may cause insulin and leptin resistance, two major factors in obesity and diabetes. As Whole Health Source explains:

What is not so speculative is that once you’re leptin-resistant, you become obese and insulin resistant, and at that point you are intolerant to any type of carbohydrate. This may explain the efficacy of carbohydrate restriction in weight loss and improving general health.

Wikipedia adds:

Lectin may cause leptin resistance, affecting its functions (signal have high levels of leptin and several effects gathering to protect from lipid overload), as indicated by studies on effects of single nucleotide polymorphisms on the function of leptin and the leptin receptor.[9]

Such leptin resistance may translate into diseases, notably it could be responsible for obesity in humans who have high levels of leptin.

Lectins also have the potential to bind to any carbohydrate containing tissue in the body, from the thyroid to the heart. (Maybe beans aren’t so good for the heart after all!). My personal theory is that sticky particles and pre-digested food floating around in the bloodstream does much more to clog arteries than slippery saturated fats, which get the bad rap!

So, lectins can contribute to disease and obesity when they pass through the intestinal wall and float through our bloodstream with other parts of pre-digested food. Personally,I’m not a big fan of the idea of partially digested food floating around in my blood, so is there a solution?

Reducing Lectin in Beans and Grains

I certainly don’t want to let beans take all the heat here! Grains contain just as high of levels of lectins and can wreak just as much havoc, if not more.

All plants, in fact, contain lectins in varying amounts. Grains and beans (especially soybeans and peanuts) have especially high concentrations, along with nuts, pasteurized dairy, and genetically modified foods.

The harmful effects of lectins (and phytic acid) can be mitigated some by using traditional methods of perpetration, like sprouting, fermenting, and soaking, though even these do not remove the lectins completely. Unfortunately, these methods are rarely practiced anymore, and grains in the processed forms we typically consume are little lectin powerhouses.

Over time, these lectins can cause serious damage to the intestinal lining and eventually cellular damage within the body.

What Level of Lectin Consumption is Safe?

This is a difficult question with no single answer. Certainly, if foods containing high levels of lectins are going to be consumed, traditional methods like soaking, fermenting, and sprouting should be used to minimize the lectin content.

My personal recommendation is the get rid of the highest sources of lectins and reduce the other sources if possible. From Wikipedia:

Foods with high concentrations of lectins, such as beans, cereal grains, seeds, and nuts, may be harmful if consumed in excess in uncooked or improperly cooked form. Adverse effects may include nutritional deficiencies, and immune (allergic) reactions7. Possibly, most effects of lectins are due to gastrointestinal distress through interaction of the lectins with the gut epithelial cells. A recent in vitrostudy has suggested that the mechanism of lectin damage may occur by interfering with the repair of already-damaged epithelial cells.8

Personally, I avoid the grains (and legumes except rare occasions), soak nuts overnight, and trust that the much lower levels in other plants won’t harm my intestines too much. Removing all processed and commercially prepared foods will remove the worst offenders: grains and soy.

If you are overweight or attempting to lose weight, a more stringent avoidance of lectins might be helpful. Since lectins can bind to leptin and insulin receptors, they can increase resistance to carbohydrates and cause weight gain or inability to lose weight.

For many, avoiding lectins, especially for a year or so, can help heal the intestinal lining, and facilitate weight loss, reduction of allergy symptoms, and other health improvements.

So, I guess second grade logic isn’t so solid after all…. beans aren’t necessarily good for the heart, though other parts of the saying still ring true!

Do you eat beans? If so, what kind(s)? Share below!