Eating by Color
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Eat Your Colors
Fruits and vegetables are packed with not only vitamins and minerals, but also another healthy component: phytochemicals. Every color indicates a different class of phytochemicals. Here's an overview of the health benefits you reap when you eat a spectrum of fruits and vegetables.
Examples: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bok choy
What it has: isothiocyanates: compounds found in cruciferous vegetables that can help prevent cancer by cleansing cancer-causing compounds from the body. You reap the most benefits from eating these veggies raw, so try Bobby's Napa Cabbage Slaw. These veggies are also high in folate, a vitamin needed to form healthy cells.
Examples: avocadoes, kiwi, leafy greens (like spinach and kale), green peppers, zucchini, corn
What it has: Yellow/green fruits and veggies contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two compounds that are important for eye health — they help ward off or delay age-related macular degeneration. These nutrients are fat-soluble, so sauteing them will help you absorb the lutein and zeaxanthin. Avocadoes come with healthy fats to aid absorption. Try this Garlicky Greens recipe.
Examples: tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit
What it has: Lycopene is what gives these fruits and vegetables their color. Lycopene is a carotenoid that may lower your risk of heart disease, offer some protection against prostate cancer and even keep your skin looking smoother. Two things enhance the concentration and absorption of lycopene — cooking it and eating it with oil (since it's fat-soluble).
Examples: blueberries, eggplant (skin), red and black grapes, blackberries, black beans, plums
What it has: Blue/purple fruits aren't all that common. They get their deep hue from anthocyanins, antioxidants that may combat inflammation (inflammation is associated with many health problems, from heart disease to autoimmune diseases). The darker the color, the higher the concentration of anthocyanins, making blackberries and blueberries two of the richest sources.
Examples: leeks, garlic, onions
What it has: Alliums — those pungent roots that are oh-so-good for flavoring recipes — contain organosulfur compounds. The organosulfur compounds in garlic may protect against heart disease, according to research. High intakes of alliums may also ward off stomach and colorectal cancers. After chopping garlic, let it sit for 10 minutes before cooking with it — scientists say this may help preserve the enzyme in garlic that releases the helpful organosulfur compounds.
Examples: carrots, sweet potatoes, oranges, apricots, pumpkin, lemons
What it has: Orange-colored produce is packed with carotenoids, which turn into vitamin A in your body. Vitamin A is needed for cell growth, immune function and healthy vision. Citrus fruits also fall into this category and are a rich source of immune-boosting vitamin C.