As the warm weather approaches, it’s time to spend more time in your garden—an activity that can reap rewards beyond fresh air and exercise. A new study, which included more than 1,300 college students, found that those who gardened currently and in childhood consumed about one-half cup more fruits and vegetables daily, compared to those who never gardened. This recent study, which was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, backs up previous research that shows that people—in particular children—benefit from better diets when they participate in gardening.

It makes sense, as gardening provides more access to ripe, delicious, nutritious fruits and vegetables, and it makes these foods more desirable. Who doesn’t want to enjoy the fruits of their labor (literally) when it comes in the form of a perfectly ripe heirloom tomato, or crisp radish fresh from the soil? So, go ahead and get dirty. Even if you have a small garden area, replace some decorative trees, shrubs, and plants with edible ones, such as fruit trees, berry vines, and tomato plants. You can also try a small container garden on your balcony or front door step. Check out the USDA Home Gardening site (nal.usda.gov/home-gardening) for information on getting started in your own patch of soil.

Read the full study here.

Corn, arugula, strawberries growing in my garden, Sharon Palmer, RDN

 

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