By putting something of every color on
your plate or in your lunch bag, you are more likely to eat the five
to nine recommended servings of vegetables and fruit every day. Just
think: 1 cup of dark, leafy greens, 1/2 cup of red
tomatoes, 1/2 cup of yellow peppers, 6 ounces orange
juice and 1/2 cup of blueberries. And you have
five a day!
It's quite simple when you sample the spectrum.
The more reds,
oranges, greens, yellows and blues you see on the plate, the more
health-promoting properties you are also getting from your vegetable
and fruit choices. Nutrition research shows that colorful vegetables
and fruits contain essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and
phytochemicals that your body needs to promote health and help you
feel great. Here are the specifics…
When you add deep reds or bright pinks
to your daily diet, you are also adding a powerful antioxidant
called lycopene. Lycopene is found in tomatoes, red and pink
grapefruit, watermelon, papaya, and guava. Diets rich in lycopene
are being studied for their ability to fight heart disease and some
Do you know why this color is so
essential to your diet? Not only do green vegetables look great and
taste wonderful, but they are rich in the phytochemicals that keep
you healthy. For example, the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin that
are found in spinach, collards, kale and broccoli have antioxidant
properties and are being studied for their ability to protect your
eyes by keeping your retina strong. Also, research is being done on
cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower,
kale and turnips to see if they may reduce the risk of cancerous
tumors. Greens are also loaded with essential vitamins such as
folate, along with minerals and fiber.
Orange, the color of a blazing sun, is
a must-have in your daily diet. Orange vegetables and fruits like
sweet potatoes, mangos, carrots and apricots contain beta carotene.
This carotenoid is a natural antioxidant that is being studied for
its role in enhancing the immune system. In addition to being touted
as a powerful health-protector, the orange group is rich in Vitamin
C. Folate, most often found in leafy greens, is also found in orange
fruits and vegetables; it is a B vitamin that may help prevent some
birth defects and reduce your risk of heart disease. With a chemical
makeup this good, make the orange group always a part of your five
to nine a day.
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Bright yellows have many of the same
perks as the orange groups: high in essential vitamins and
carotenoids. Pineapple, for example, is rich with Vitamin C,
manganese and the natural enzyme bromelain. Additionally, corn and
pears are high in fiber. Yellow fruits and vegetables belong to many
different families, but they all share the common bond of being
health-enhancing with great taste. Go for the gold!
Blues and purples not only add beautiful shades of tranquillity
and richness to your plate, they add health-enhancing flavonoids,
phytochemicals and antioxidants. Anthocyanins, a phytochemical, are
pigments responsible for the blue color in vegetables and fruits and
are being studied for their role in the body's defense of harmful
carcinogens. Blueberries, in particular, are rich in Vitamin C and
folic acid and high in fiber and potassium.
Vegetables from the onion family --
which include garlic, chives, scallions, leeks and any variety of
onion -- contain the phytochemical allicin. Research is being
Allicin to learn how
it may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure and increase
the body's ability to fight infections.
sulfaforaphanes, phytochemicals in cruciferous vegetables like
cauliflower, for how they may inhibit cancer growth.
important phytochemical in pears and green grapes, for how they
may reduce the risk of certain cancers.
Savor the spectrum all year long
There is color in every season. When it comes to your health,
you'll fare best with a multicolored diet. By putting something of
every color on your plate or in your lunch bag, you are more likely
to eat the recommended five to nine servings of vegetables and
fruits every day. Think color: 1 cup of dark, leafy salad greens
with white onions sprinkled on top, 1/2 cup of red
tomatoes, 1/2 cup of yellow pineapple chunks, 6 ounces
orange juice and 1/2 cup of blueberries. Delicious and
nine a day the colorful, healthy way!
for Disease Control and Prevention]