Eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables is a healthy way of life, but did you know that the pigments contained in produce that give each item its bright color, actually helps the body in its own unique way?
Examples: beets, cherries, cranberries, kidney beans, pink grapefruit, pomegranates, radicchio, radishes, raspberries, red apples, red grapes, red onions, red potatoes, rhubarb, strawberries, tomatoes, watermelon.
Nutrient content: Lycopene and anthocyanins help prevent cancer, neurological and aging diseases, improve diabetes and increase your chances at a healthy heart.
ORANGE / YELLOW
Examples: apricots, butternut squash, cantaloupe, carrots, corn, grapefruit, lemons, mandarins, mangoes, nectarines, orange bell peppers, orange cauliflower, oranges, papayas, peaches, pears, persimmons, pineapples, plantains, pumpkins, rutabaga, sweet potatoes, tangelos, tangerines, yellow apples, yellow bell peppers, yellow kiwifruits, yellow peppers, yellow potatoes, yellow summer squash, yellow watermelons, yellow wax beans, yams.
Nutrient content: Carotenoids aid in the health of mucous membranes, vision, to prevent heart disease, cancer and strengthen the immune system.
Examples: bananas, cauliflower, garlic, ginger, jicama, onions, mushrooms, parsnips, potatoes, turnips, white beans.
Nutrient content: Anthoxanthins contribute to lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and to reduce the probability of stomach cancer and heart disease.
Examples: artichokes, asparagus, avocados, broccoli, brussel sprouts, celery, cucumbers, green apples, green cabbage, green grapes, green onions, green peas, green peppers, honeydew melon, kiwifruit, lettuce, limes, peas, snow peas, spinach, zucchini.
Nutrient content: Lutein aids in healthy vision, to prevent cancer and heart disease as well as birth defects. It also makes bones and teeth stronger.
BLUE / PURPLE
Examples: black beans, black currents, elderberries, blackberries, blueberries, eggplants, figs, plums, purple cauliflower, purple cabbage, purple grapes, purple kale, purple potatoes, prunes, raisins.
Nutrient content: Anthocyanins and flavanoids prevent memory loss, cancer, stroke and heart disease.
Try not to peel vegetables to maintain nutrient content. Although some produce, such as bananas, need to have their peel removed, potatoes do not.
When cooking with a liquid present, such as steaming and boiling, a minimal amount of fluids to prevent the nutrients from leaching out of the produce into the liquid.
Do not broil produce as high heat destroy nutrient content.
Wash fruit and vegetables with plenty of running water to remove any possibility of transmitting contagious food-bourne illnesses.
Pack produce away from meats in the shopping cart and the refrigerator to avoid cross-contamination.
Wash hands in warm soapy water for 20 seconds before handling produce to avoid contaminating produce.
Remove outer leaves on heads of lettuce, and discard.
Use a separate cutting board for meats and vegetables.
Sanitize cutting boards in the dishwasher or in a solution of 1 tsp bleach per 1 quart of water.
Remember to eat a minimum of 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day, with a goal of 9 servings of fruit and vegetables.
A serving consists of:
1/2 cup canned, frozen fruits or vegetables
1 medium piece of fruit
3/4 cup of fruit or vegetable juice
1 cup of raw leafy greens
1/4 cup dried fruit
Maybe you are unsure how to add these extra servings or nutrients into your diet. Well, I have some tips!
Start off in small quantities.
Add something new to your salad, soup, omelet, smoothie or casserole.
Try using your favorite spices and your favorite cooking method. In my house, roasting with garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil is a winner.
Try new foods when hungry.
Use canned pumpkin in place of oil in cake recipes!
Try adding some fruit to your next bowl of cereal.