Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Taste a Rainbow of Fruits and Vegetables for Better Health

Source: http://www.ag.ndsu.edu

Scientists are regularly reporting new health benefits associated with fruits and vegetables. Eating more fruits and vegetables is a worthwhile goal. Eating a variety of different colors of fruits and vegetables every day is a new way of thinking about meeting the goal. Here's a post on what health benefits different colour groups of fruits & vegetables offer.

Red fruits and vegetables are colored by natural plant pigments called "lycopene" or "anthocyanins." Lycopene in tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit, for example, may help reduce risk of several types of cancer, especially prostate cancer. Lycopene in foods containing cooked tomatoes, such as spaghetti sauce, and a small amount of fat are absorbed better than lycopene from raw tomatoes. Anthocyanins in strawberries, raspberries, red grapes and other fruits and vegetables act as powerful antioxidants that protect cells from damage. Antioxidants are linked with keeping our hearts healthy, too.
Some examples of the red group: Red apples, Beets, Red cabbage, Cherries, Cranberries, Pink grapefruit, Red grapes, Red peppers, Pomegranates, Red potatoes, Radishes, Raspberries, Rhubarb, Strawberries, Tomatoes, Watermelon

Orange/yellow fruits and vegetables are usually colored by natural plant pigments called "carotenoids." Beta-carotene in sweet potatoes, pumpkins and carrots is converted to vitamin A, which helps maintain healthy mucous membranes and healthy eyes. Carotenoid-rich foods can help reduce risk of cancer, heart disease and can improve immune system function. People who ate a diet high in carotenoid-rich vegetables were less likely to develop age-related macular degeneration, an eye disorder common among the elderly, which can lead to blindness. Carotenoids also may be good for your heart - men with high cholesterol who ate plenty of vegetables high in carotenoids had a 36 percent lower chance of heart attack and death than their counterparts who shunned vegetables. Citrus fruits like oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C and folate, a B vitamin that helps reduce risk of birth defects.
Some examples of the orange/yellow group include: Yellow apples, Apricots, Carrots, Grapefruit, Lemons, Mangoes, Oranges, Papayas, Peaches, Pears, Yellow peppers, Pineapple, Pumpkin, Sweet corn, Sweet potatoes, Tangerines, Yellow tomatoes, Yellow watermelon, etc.

Green fruits and vegetables are colored by natural plant pigment called "chlorophyll." Some members of the green group, including spinach and other dark leafy greens, green peppers, peas, cucumber and celery, contain lutein. Lutein works with another chemical, zeaxanthin, found in corn, red peppers, oranges, grapes and egg yolks to help keep eyes healthy. Together, these chemicals may help reduce risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, which can lead to blindness if untreated. The "indoles" in broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables may help protect against some types of cancer. Leafy greens such as spinach and broccoli are excellent sources of folate, a B vitamin that helps reduce risk of birth defects.
Some examples of the green group include: Green apples, Asparagus, Avocados, Green beans, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Green cabbage, Cucumbers, Green grapes, Kiwi, Lettuce, Limes, Green onions, Peas, Green pepper, Spinach, Zucchini, etc.

Blue/purple fruits and vegetables are colored by natural plant pigments called "anthocyanins." Anthocyanins in blueberries, grapes and raisins act as powerful antioxidants that protect cells from damage. They may help reduce risk of cancer, stroke and heart disease. Other studies have shown that eating more blueberries is linked with improved memory function and healthy aging.
These are some examples of the blue/purple group: Blackberries, Blueberries, Eggplant, Figs, Plums, Prunes, Purple grapes, Raisins, etc.

White fruits and vegetables are colored by pigments called "anthoxanthins." They may contain health-promoting chemicals such as allicin, which may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure and may help reduce risk of stomach cancer and heart disease. Some members of the white group, such as bananas and potatoes, are good sources of the mineral potassium, too.
Some examples of the white group include:
Bananas, Cauliflower, Garlic, Ginger, Mushrooms, Onions, Potatoes, Turnips, etc.

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