Buying Healthy Varieties

blue_ivy(5 IN)February 6, 2009

Hi Everyone,

Is there a way you know of to determine how varieties of some particular edible compare to each other in terms of nutritional value? For example, if I decided that I have room to grow only 3 kinds of lettuce (or potato, or whatever) and I want to plant the healthiest types, how should I go about determining which these would be?


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I would do a search for nutritional value of what ever variety you are thinking about. I would think you would need to know the variety first. I know off hand that romaine lettuce is supposed to have more nutritional value than iceberg. Just google the varieties or list them here and someone can help you look them up.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2009 at 5:20PM
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Hi Blue Ivy,
The darker the color, the more nutritional value. So as Ronnie said iceburg has less nutritional value than romaine. But a darker lettuce like a pretty deep red leaf lettuce will have even more value. Spinach which is a dark green has lots of nutritional value.
A white carrot has less nutritional value than an orange carrot, but a red/purple carrot has even more than an orange carrot.
This seems to hold true for all veggies and fruits. Of course eating lots of fruit and veggies of any color is much better for you than the junk that most people eat : )

    Bookmark   February 6, 2009 at 8:57PM
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blue_ivy(5 IN)

Thanks for your responses, Ronnie and Remy.

Remy, your rule about darker colors having more nutritional value sounds so useful! What an easy way to try to distinguish between varieties. I tried to look up information to confirm that, and at least in some cases, it is that easy to compare varieties with respect to certain nutritional components.

I found one helpful site, although it does not compare varieties as in depth as I would like, it does give a few generalities for guidance. For example, Remy's color rule seems to work for lettuce and winter squash, with respect to beta carotene, according to

Lettuce: "The darker green, the more beta carotene."
Winter Squash: "As a general rule, the deeper the orange color, the higher the beta carotene content."

Also, this site says that red peppers are significantly healthier than green (or other) ones, especially with respect to vitamins A and C. (I had no idea! What a useful thing to know!) Below is part of the health entry under "Pepper" on the site.

Nutritional Value & Health Benefits

Nutritionally, peppers vary depending on the variety and stage of maturity. In general, all peppers are a good source of vitamin A and C; the red ones are bursting with these two antioxidants. Antioxidants are a group of nutrients that neutralize free radicals in the body fluids reducing the risk of disease.

Free radicals are naturally produced when the body uses oxygen. Unless they are neutralized, they cause cell damage, which may lead to health problems such as arthritis, heart disease and cancer. A single raw red pepper, sweet or hot, can meet the daily requirements for two important antioxidants, vitamin A and C.

Nutrition Facts (one small raw sweet pepper, about 3/4 cup)

Vitamin C
Green 66.08 mg
Red 140.60 mg

Vitamin A
Green 468 IU
Red 4218 IU

I would be extremely interested in hearing similar information that anyone would come across elsewhere.

Here is a link that might be useful: University of Illinois Veggie Info including Nutritional

    Bookmark   February 7, 2009 at 10:47AM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

Great question!...and answers.

Thanks for the link blue, I saved it. Lots of good to know info there.


    Bookmark   February 7, 2009 at 11:50AM
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lgslgs(z6 SE ohio)

Tola - if you are short of garden space you might want to grow some stuff in containers. We do all of our veg in containers because the soil is so poor, compost heap so big, and we can get free used 5 gallon plastic buckets.

If you don't have your compost heap going yet and you live in a rural area, you might be able to do a barn cleaning for your landlord or some he knows and get a good start on one.


Here is a link that might be useful: bucket gardening photos

    Bookmark   February 7, 2009 at 12:44PM
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Lynda, your gardens look great! Do you have to drill holes in those buckets in the bottom for drainage?

My soil here is very poor also. I love my compost bin!

I love to see all the different ways we can garden. Getting ideas all the time.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2009 at 1:13PM
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lgslgs(z6 SE ohio)

Scottrell - yes, we put twelve 1/4 inch holes in the bottom of each.

Scottrell & Blue_Ivy, if you need cheap, space saving strawberry planters we've got a couple of nice makeshift styles we use. One type is just made from stacks of damaged pots, the other uses a hole cutter saw (fits on the end of a drill) and either a large recycled plastic drum or recycled wastebasket (kitchen or office sized).

Tire gardens are also handy - quick raised beds.


Here is a link that might be useful: Strawberry planters and tire gardens

    Bookmark   February 7, 2009 at 2:41PM
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Blue Ivy,
You're welcome : )
I should of mentioned about the peppers too. I teach that when the kids come to learn about fruits and veggies. The kids and parents have no clue a green pepper is not completely ripe and will turn another color when ripe. Lots of people unfortunately never learn at school or on a field trip about nutrition, or it is quickly glossed over.
Ok, I'm going to brag a bit. I got my pic in the Buffalo News a little while ago teaching kids. Check out the link.

Here is a link that might be useful: Buffalo News Article about Wegmans with Me

    Bookmark   February 7, 2009 at 8:02PM
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jaleeisa(6b Oklahoma)

WOW Remy! What a great sounding company to work for! And it's really cool that you were in that article!


    Bookmark   February 8, 2009 at 7:53AM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

lgslgs I am very interested in your method. I spend too much money on bagged soilless mix. Are you saying I can use cow manure or compost straight with no additives? I have some cow manure from a barn lot; it has no smell its like light weight soil. I thought compost or manure would not drain well enough in a pot. Please tell me more.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2009 at 10:14PM
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lgslgs(z6 SE ohio)

helenh - we use well composted compost (mix of leaf, manure, veg scraps, etc.) and once it is fully composted we sieve it and then add perlite to get a nice textured potting mix.

I don't have exact instructions because hubby does it by feel and his family have been mixing their own container mix for generations.

If you visit the soil and compost forum I'm sure that someone there can walk you through the steps of going from cow pies to container mix. :) They will also be really good at helping you assess how composted your manure is, what else should be composted with it, and how to make a mix with proper drainage.


    Bookmark   February 9, 2009 at 10:11AM
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