by Connie Veilleux @ DailyForage–glutenfree.com
It can be easy to get into a rut of eating the same fruits and vegetables over and over in our daily routines. While I would never discourage you from eating fruits and vegetables, it is important to consider if you are reaping all the available benefits for your efforts. It seems everywhere we go we find nutritionists, allergists, fitness gurus, and even a small handful of MDs espousing the benefits of a well-balanced variety of these vitamin-rich foods. And they’re right! Including generous amounts of fruits and vegetables as part of a well-balanced diet has been shown to help the body maintain better health, reduce obesity, and potentially reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, some types of cancer, and type 2 diabetes, just to name a few of the high-risk diseases plaguing our society today. But why is this variety so important? Basically, different colors contain different vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants. Eating a virtual rainbow of these foods can supply one’s body with more balanced nutrition, so your good efforts pay greater dividends. And who can argue with that reasoning?
This brings me back to my original question … How colorful is your sink after preparing a meal? The more colorful the discards are in your sink when you’ve finished prepping a meal … you know the dicing, slicing, chopping, peeling … the more likely it is that you’ve consumed a good variety of vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants.
Here is a list of some delicious and nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables to help move you out of the rut, create a colorful palate in your sink, and bring you a rainbow of disease-fighting choices. And if you’re already great at using variety, don’t stop here. Move into vegetables and fruits more commonly found in other cuisines by visiting the local farmer’s markets or your ethnic stores. It’s amazing what you can find. At the bottom of this article you’ll find the health benefits of each nutrient listed. What color is your sink? Inquiring, and smart-food, minds want to know!
Nutrient-Rich Foods Listed According to Color
Red – most are rich in vitamin A and vitamin C, lycopene, quercetin, flavonoids
any variety of red apples
red bell pepper
hot red peppers
Orange – most are rich in vitamin E, vitamin C, beta-carotene, potassium
Yellow – most are rich in beta-carotene, vitamin E, vitamin C, potassium
Golden Delicious apples
yellow bell pepper
Green – most are rich in vitamin K, many fall into the cruciferous category
Granny Smith apples
snow or snap peas
green bell pepper
Blue and Purple – most are rich in anthocyanin and flavonoids
White – most are rich in quercetin
Here are some of the health benefits of the vitamins and nutrients listed above:
Anthocyanin – a powerful antioxidant that aids in reducing risks of heart disease and certain types of cancer, stroke, and helps boost memory
Beta-carotene – a powerful antioxidant that aids in reducing risks of heart disease and certain types of cancer
Cruciferous foods – high in vitamin A, vitamin C, Folic Acid (which aids in preventing some birth defects), aid in reducing certain types of cancer, heart disease
Flavonoids – rich in antioxidants, aid in reducing risk of heart disease, cancer, also may help reduce the risk of osteoporosis and diabetes
Lycopene – a powerful antioxidant that aids in neutralizing free radicals, may aid in reducing risks of heart disease, certain types of cancer
Quercetin – a powerful antioxidant that aids in neutralizing free radicals
Potassium – proper levels of potassium aid in maintaining normal blood pressure, reducing risk of stroke and heart disease, arthritis, and some types of cancer
Vitamin A – maintains specialized tissue health, promotes normal development of teeth and soft and skeletal tissue
Vitamin C – helps protect against heart disease, certain types of cancers, and boosts the immune system
Vitamin E – a powerful antioxidant that aids in reducing risks of heart disease and certain types of cancer
Vitamin K – helps blood clot normally, supports increased bone density, rich in antioxidants that help fight free radicals
This is just a partial list of all the nutrients provided by a well-balanced consumption of fruits and vegetables.
While many of the fruits and vegetables can also be categorized by their nutrients or food “species”, for the purpose of this article, I’ve grouped them by color. It is easy to serve nutritious and delicious fruits and vegetables. A variety of colors make a dish more eye-catching. And we all know we eat with our eyes first, right?
[box type=”note” border=”full”]**I am not a medical professional. Always consult your physician concerning your dietary needs.[/box]