The 8 Healthiest Nutrient-Packed Vegetables To Grow In Your Garden

How to find the most nutritious vegetable varieties for your garden.

May 25, 2017
Burpee BOOST collection
Photograph courtesy of Burpee

Possibly by now you've heard that a diet high in antioxidants can not only keep your body in top shape, but it can also strengthen your immune system, and possibly slow the aging process. What you might not know is that, while everybody else has been caught up with the latest dieting fads and workout routines, Burpee Home Gardens has been rigorously testing many plant varieties, in search of the vegetables that pack the highest levels of antioxidants possible.

(Whether you're starting your first garden or switching to organic, Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening has all the answers and advice you need—get your copy today.)

Burpee's BOOST Collection, a collection of 8 nutrient-packed vegetable varieties, started as an idea almost 10 years ago, and has been in the market for 6 years now. Burpee's plant breeders started researching making vegetables more nutritious through traditional breeding (that's right, no GMOs here!).

"Breeding in this kind of higher nutrition isn't easy, as the testing requirements are very strict" says Scott Mozingo, Burpee Product Manager. "Each variety is grown in a comparison trial replicated across the country. We compare each entry in BOOST next to similar, common garden varieties."

Related: 13 Really Weird Things Organic Gardeners Do That Actually Work

When the fruit is ready to be picked, researchers at Burpee use spectrum analysis machines to measure the claimed increase in nutrients. So if it's a pepper with a claim to higher vitamin C content, they measure the vitamin C content of the BOOST trial variety and the comparison varieties across all of the trials. "If the variety holds up to it's signicifantly higher claim, it qualifies as a BOOST variety," says Mozingo.

The plants in Burpee's BOOST collection boast increases in vitamins A, C, and E; beta-carotene; selenium; and lycopene.

The BOOST collection, while staking a claim to higher antioxidants, doesn't lack in the flavor department. "At Burpee, we often say taste is like 'greens fees' to a golf course," says Mozingo. "The varieties aren't getting into our program unless they taste great!" Each BOOST variety passes a rigorous taste trial, and as they've been in market, they have received great feedback from gardeners and foodies.

All of these varieties are available in seed form (many also available as plants) at Burpee.com. For those who like to see a plant before buying, use the Burpee Home Gardens 'Find A Store' feature to locate a greenhouse or garden center near you that sells the BOOST collection.

mighty sweet tomato
1/8 Photograph courtesy of Burpee
'Mighty Sweet' Tomato

BOOST:
+45% Lycopene

Tall, vigorous, semi-determinate plants yield an abundance of deep red grape tomatoes with excellent sweet flavor, big tomato taste, and 45% more lycopene than the average grape tomato.  The ‘Mighty Sweet’ tomato plants have good leaf cover to protect fruit from sun and weather, and produces fruit right up until the first frost.

Seeds and plants are available at Burpee.com.

Related: How To Grow 90 Pounds Of Tomatoes From Only 5 Plants

gold standard cucumber
2/8 Photograph courtesy of Burpee
'Gold Standard' Cucumber

BOOST:
5x Beta-Carotene

If you have ever brought purple potato salad or a yellow watermelon to a get together, you’ll understand why Mozingo touts the Gold Standard cucumber as one of his favorites. “It’s the only vegetable in the collection that you can see a difference,” says Mozingo. “Beta carotene is what helps make carrots orange, and it also lends a salmon color to ‘Gold Standard,’ making it a real conversation item, in addition to being crunchy and delicious.”

Best for fresh eating, or pickling, ‘Gold Standard’ can produce up to five times the amount of beta-carotene of other garden cucumbers. 

Seeds are available at Burpee.com.

Related: Everything You Need To Know About Growing Cucumbers

cherry punch tomato
3/8 Photograph courtesy of Burpee
'Cherry Punch' Tomato

BOOST:
+30% Vitamin C, +40% Lycopene

These tiny red cherry tomatoes are bursting with flavor.  Producing high yields of fruit early in the season, this indeterminate tomato plant grows best in large containers, or in raised beds. ‘Cherry Punch’ delivers 30% more vitamin C and 40% more lycopene than the average garden tomato.

Seeds and plants are available at Burpee.com.

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sweet heat peppers
4/8 Photograph courtesy of Burpee
'Sweet Heat' Hot Pepper

BOOST:
+65% Vitamin C

These mildly spicy peppers are delicious both raw and cooked, whether picked green or red. When green, they pack 329 Scoville units, and after they turn red, they become a bit sweeter with only 235 Scoville units. The ‘Sweet Heat’ pepper grows on compact, bushy plants, and grows just as well in large pots on the patio as it does in the garden.

Seeds and plants are available at Burpee.com.

Related: A Step-By-Step Guide To Growing Peppers

tasti-lee tomatoes
5/8 Photograph courtesy of Burpee
'Tasti-Lee' Tomato

BOOST:
+40% Lycopene

Bred in Florida, 'Tasti-Lee' tomatoes stand tough in the hottest weather conditions. This tomato combines superior sweet flavor with the health benefits of up to 40% more lycopene than similar slicing tomatoes. The indeterminate plant grows a bounty of deep red-fleshed tomatoes that are delicious both fresh and cooked.

Seeds and plants are available at Burpee.com.

Related: How To Grow Bigger And Better Tomatoes

solar power tomato
6/8 Photograph courtesy of Burpee
'Solar Power' Tomato

BOOST:
3x Beta-Carotene

This small, brilliant orange, meaty paste tomato grows on indeterminate plants, and is perfect for both salads and sauces. The 'Solar Power' tomato produces more than three times the level of beta-carotene than the average garden tomato.

Seeds and plants are available at Burpee.com.

healing hands lettuce variety
7/8 Photograph courtesy of Burpee
'Healing Hands' Lettuce

BOOST:
+20% Lutein, +30% Beta-Carotene, +30% Carotenoids, +70% Anthocyanins

Grow this attractive mix of different colored, flavored, and textured salad greens right in a bowl on your picnic table. Sold as a multi-seed pellet, the 'Healing Hands' lettuce variety produces 20% more lutein, 30% more beta-carotene, 30% more total carotenoids, and 70% more anthocyanins compared to other garden salad blends. Harvest every 3 weeks by cutting leaves back to 2 inches, and they will regrow several times throughout the year for more fresh salads.

Seed pellets are available at Burpee.com.

Related: A Plan For Growing Lettuce All Season Long

power pop tomatoes
8/8 Photograph courtesy of Burpee
'Power Pop' Tomato

BOOST:
+55% Lycopene, +40% Carotenoids

These delicious cherry tomatoes grow on indeterminate plants, that produce ripe fruit up to two weeks earlier than similar varities!  With a cascading habit, 'Power Pop' tomatoes are an excellent variety for gardening in containers, or in hanging baskets.  The 'Power Pop' tomatoes can produce 55% more lycopene and 40% more carotenoids than the average garden tomato.

Seeds and plants are available at Burpee.com.

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