Grow Your Own Healthy Produce

By: Nina K. Regevik, M.D., FACP, ABIHMDr Nina Regevik crop

Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is essential in obtaining overall health. Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, contain important vitamins and minerals, and may even reduce your overall disease risk. Healthful organic produce acts as a healthy and convenient snack, and can even be grown in your own backyard. The following are some examples of produce that is healthy and can be grown at home.

Broccoli – A fall and spring “superfood” veggie, that like kale, cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables, are a great addition to a healthy diet.
Kale – A cool weather crop that is packed with vitamins and minerals.
Spinach – An easy to grow crop that keep artery walls free of cholesterol, which can help in the prevention of heart attacks.
Garlic – An early summer crop, typically planted in the fall, which may help in reducing high blood pressure, lowering cancer rates and fighting infection.
Blueberries – A summer crop that is packed with antioxidants and may help with memory loss and eye health.
Figs – A crop rich in potassium and calcium. Fig trees can also be easily grown in containers, making them ideal for limited space gardens.

If you are interested in gardening but are not sure where to begin, Raritan Bay Medical Center has a great resource available to show you how to grow healthful produce in your own backyard. Free hands-on gardening education and other educational events are provided at The Learning Garden in Perth Amboy. The medical center’s Integrative Health Services spearheaded the creation of the annual garden program through a donation by the Raritan Bay medical staff, numerous team member and community volunteers and under the guidance of Master Gardener Constance Elek.  The program was launched at Raritan Bay in 2015 with the goal of providing education for children and adults about the basics of organic gardening and the importance of healthy produce and proper nutrition.

Initial planting sessions will begin mid- to late-May and education sessions will be held on Thursdays, July 6 through August 31, 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.  Volunteers are welcome to assist in maintaining and harvesting the garden.  For more information, schedule of education events including the first plantings, or to register as a volunteer, call 732-324-5257.

Internist Nina K. Regevik, M.D., FACP, ABIHM, is co-director of Integrative Health Services at Hackensack Meridian Health Raritan Bay Medical Center with Paula O’Neill, MS, R.N.-BC. Since 2004, the program’s qualified and credentialed practitioners have provided integrative therapies to enhance patient health and well-being on an inpatient basis and are provided without a fee. Additional outpatient services and classes are available for a fee. All services support the mind, body, and spirit and are customized to individuals’ needs. For more information or an appointment, call 732-324-5257 or visit

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