Eat the Rainbow for Disease Prevention
Have you ever heard that carrots are good for your eyes? What is it about this crunchy vegetable that may help to protect vision?
Fruits and vegetables have a variety of health benefits for health and wellness. In addition to being low in calories and good sources of dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and water... the colors of fruits and vegetables also contain functional compounds that may help to prevent chronic diseases. These disease-preventing compounds, called "phytonutrients" or "phytochemicals", are found in the pigments of fruits and vegetables. They are the compounds that also give fruits and vegetables their signature colors. The orange color in carrots is beneficial for protecting vision!
Each color or pigment found in fruits and vegetables provides diverse disease-fighting properties as listed below. By eating the rainbow with fruits and vegetables, you can vary your colors and phytonutrients consumed to prevent a variety of diseases.
Increase your daily intake of fruits and vegetables from each sub-group below with a variety of fresh, frozen, canned, dried, and dehydrated fruits and vegetables. Canned fruits and vegetables can be made healthier by draining and rinsing them and/or choosing versions without added salt or sugar. How could you get more of these colors on your plate this week for preventative health?
Red - Colored by the phytonutrients carotenoids (lycopene) and anthocyanidins which help to reduce the risk of cancer (prostate) and keep our heart healthy - Examples: tomatoes, radishes, strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb, cranberries, cherries, red grapes, watermelon, red apples, red peppers, red onions
Orange and Yellow - Colored by phytonutrients carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin) which help to maintain healthy eyes, prevent cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, and keep our heart healthy - Examples: carrots, pumpkins, sweet potato, oranges, lemon, pineapples, mango, corn, squash, peaches, nectarines, apricots
Green - Colored by phytonutrients carotenoids, indoles, saponins, and chlorophyll which provide anti-cancer properties, protect the heart, and promote eye health - Examples: lettuce, kale, mustard greens, collard greens, arugula, spinach, asparagus, avocados, broccoli, peas, green apples, green grapes, cucumber, kiwi, green beans, lettuce, celery, pears
Purple and Blue - Colored by phytonutrients anthocyanidins and flavonoids (resveratrol) which protect cells from damage and help reduce the risk of cancer, stroke, heart disease, and cognitive decline - Examples: eggplant, purple grapes, plums, prunes, beets, kohlrabi, figs, purple cauliflower, purple potatoes, blueberries, blackberries, elderberries, black currants
White - Colored by phytonutrients allicins and indoles which have antioxidant, antiviral, and antibacterial properties and help to reduce the risk of cancer, stroke, and heart disease - Examples: cauliflower, onions, garlic, ginger, turnips, parsnips, potatoes, mushrooms, jicama, kohlrabi, shallots, white peaches/nectarines
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