Thursday, September 12, 2013
Diet & Nutrition
Vegetables - Color Me Happy
What color are you?
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (www.myplate.gov), you should eat at least two servings of fruits and three servings of vegetables every day.
A serving size is one medium-sized fruit, 1/2 cup raw, frozen, cooked or canned fruit or vegetable, 3/4 cup juice, 1 cup leafy vegetable, and 1/4 cup dried fruit.
Produce for Better Health Foundation (www.5aday.com) agrees with USDA, because fruits and veggies provide a wide range of vitamins, minerals and fiber as well as antioxidants that protect the body and reduce risks of cancer and disease.
The colors, or natural phytochemicals, of these fruits and vegetables make a difference as to what part of the body they help.
The red pigments in grapefruit, raspberries, strawberries, apples, tomatoes, watermelons, beets, red potatoes and rhubarb are either lycopene or anthocyanins.
Lycopene has been known to reduce the risk of cancer, particularly prostate. Note that the lycopene in cooked tomato-base sauces like marinara sauce are more easily absorbed than the lycopene in fresh tomatoes.
These anthocyanins are antioxidants known to protect against heart disease and cell damage. They also help maintain urinary tract health.
The yellow-orange color in cantaloupes, apricots, peaches, carrots, squash, corn, pumpkin and sweet potatoes is from the carotenoids, a form of antioxidants.
Carotenoids include lutein, which can reduce macular degeneration, and beta carotene (which converts to vitamin A), which helps maintain a healthy immune system and tissues like the skin and eyes.
The green in kiwi, avocado, limes, Brussels sprouts, artichokes, green beans, green onion, green peppers, cabbage, peas, spinach and zucchini is chlorophyll, another carotenoid with lutein and indoles.
Like in yellow-orange foods, green fruits and vegetables have the antioxidants important to eyesight as well as bones and teeth. They also have been known to lower the risk of cancer.
The shades of blue in blackberries, blueberries, grapes, plums, raisins and eggplants also are anthocyanins, aka antioxidants.
These antioxidants can help improve memory and stave memory loss. They also have anti-aging benefits.
White pigments found in bananas, dates, cauliflower, garlic, onion, mushrooms and potatoes have allicin.
Allicin is believed to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol.