A rainbow full of antioxidants

Sunday, January 18, 2009

All those colorful fruits and vegetables aren’t just pretty to look at – each different color group contains antioxidants that offer different health benefit for your body. As we all know, the more antioxidants we can get from natural food sources, the healthier we will be.

Red fruits and vegetables, like tomatoes, red kidney beans, red onion, red bell pepper, radicchio, watermelon, pink grapefruit, cherries and strawberries are full of lycopene and vitamin C. Tomatoes have a higher concentration of lycopene when they’re cooked, such as in tomato sauce, canned tomatoes and even ketchup. Research has shown that lycopene-containing foods can help to prevent certain cancers and heart disease.

Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, oranges, tangerines, mangoes, corn, apricots, pineapple, and melons are full of carotenoids. The body can convert these carotenoids into retinol, a form of vitamin A, and prevent vitamin A deficiency. Carotenoids not only play a strong role in cancer prevention and anti-aging, they are also thought to enhance the immune system. Good to know during cold and flu season.

Green vegetables like spinach, greens, watercress, and broccoli are high in lutein. Lutein is concentrated in the retinas of your eyes and is crucial for good vision. A diet with a high concentration of lutein can help ward off cataracts and macular degeneration. Lutein can also be found in orange and yellow fruits and vegetables.

Blue and purple fruits and vegetables like blueberries, blackberries, red grapes, plums, cabbage, purple onions and eggplant all have several important nutrients and phytochemicals. These antioxidants prevent tumors from forming, protect against cancer, improve your memory and keep your heart healthy.

White isn’t technically a color of the rainbow, but there are plenty of white fruits and vegetables that are good for you, too! Cauliflower, garlic, onions, pears, potatoes and jicama all have their benefits. Eating potatoes with the skin on is a great source of fiber and potassium, needed to keep your heart healthy. Sulfur compounds in garlic and onions may help fight stomach and colon cancers. Onions and pears may also help protect against allergies.

So mix ‘em and match ‘em – many antioxidants, when combined, actually increase each other’s health benefits. Make a great big colorful salad and zap the heck out of those nasty free radicals.

4 comments:

Tanya said...

I seriously learn something everytime I stop here. You should become a nutrionist. Have you thought of doing that?

Bonnie said...

Great post and great photos! I count my veg/fruit servings each day. It's a lot of fun to try to get as many different colors as I can each day!

Michael Edson, MS, L.Ac. said...

As people continue to live longer, the incidence of eye disease such as macular degeneration is on the rise. These types of debilitating eye diseases rob people of vision, and can result in individuals losing their independence.

It is believed that the visual system requires up to 25% of the nutrients we take into our bodies in order to stay healthy. Impaired circulation and/or poor absorption of nutrients can significantly contribute to eye disease. Regular exercise and management of emotional stress are also critical for maintaining health.

There is a great deal of peer review research now showing the vision can be preserved through a proper diet and specific nutritional supplementation, and that macular degeneration is a nutritionally responsive eye disease.

Essential nutrients include lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids, taurine, gingko biloba, lycopene, vitamin A, E, zinc, copper, selenium for example, that can help both prevent the onset of eye disease such as macular degeneration as well as help preserve vision for those with macular degeneration.

For more information on nutrition and macular degeneration and related research studies, go to Natural Eye Care for Macular Degeneration

bettyl said...

Wow! I guess it's good that I discovered purple carrots since moving to NZ! Great info!

And thanks for visiting my blog!