Research from a major survey that analysed the connection between heart disease risk and fruit and vegetable consumption in more than 9 000 healthy adults, showed that eating a fruit or vegetable at every meal cut the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 27 percent..
Interestingly enough, the colours of the fruit and veggies you choose, play a role in which nutrients you receive. Let’s take a peek at what benefits you enjoy by eating across the colour spectrum, as well as the diseases you can prevent.
Red Fruit and Vegetables
The pigment Lycopene is what gives certain vegetables and fruit their red colour. It is a potent antioxidant linked to the reduction of various cancers, in particular those of the prostate. It is also helpful in the maintenance of healthy breast tissue. So, gobble down tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit
Red fruits and vegetables also contain flavonoids, resveratrol and vitamin, C as well as folates. Resveratrol abounds in the skin of red grapes and is an antioxidant currently investigated for its cancer preventive properties. Further good news is that resveratrol is found in red wine as well. Unfortunately, nutritionists advocate only one glass, with your meal.. Antioxidants neutralize unstable, cell-damaging molecules called free radicals. Thus, stock up on strawberries, raspberries and red peppers.
Orange and Yellow Fruit and Vegetables
Carotenoids; the pigment found in mangoes, apricots, carrots, pumpkins, squashes etc., can assist in the improvement of immune function. For example, your body uses the organic compound, Beta –carotene, to create vitamin A, implicated in the fight against acne and wrinkles. The consumption of carotenoids also links to good eye health, which is why your mom always told you to eat those carrots.
A British study even found that just a modest boost of orange and yellow fruit can lower your risk of the development of rheumatoid arthritis.
Green Fruit and Vegetables
There are numerous reasons to eat your greens. The Lutein in your broccoli and brussel sprouts assist in the prevention of cataracts, macular degeneration, (the leading cause of blindness in older adults) heart disease and some cancers.
Additionally, load your plate with greens for folate – a B vitamin that may reduce the risk of birth defects. Surprisingly enough, folate also protects the body’s cells from the potential carcinogenic effects of alcohol. According to some studies, folate also appears to reduce the risk of lung cancer in former smokers.
Furthermore, leafy greens, like spinach, contain high concentrations of vitamin k, which can help maintain bone density and prevent fractures.
Blue and purple fruits and vegetables
These fruit and vegetables are coloured by flavonoids called anthocyanins. Think plums, blackberries, eggplant and blueberries. Blueberries, in particular, are powerhouses of anthocyanins,. that act as strong antioxidants and may, according to studies in ageing lab animals, enhance memory.
Like their cranberry cousins, blueberries also assist in the prevention of urinary tract infections. This is thanks to antioxidant substances called epicatechins, which prohibit bacteria from sticking to the bladder walls.
White Fruit and Vegetables
Despite the encouragement to eat brightly coloured fruit and vegetables, white produce may contribute substantial amounts of the so called shortfall nutrients, (nutrients we seem to miss quite often) like potassium and magnesium.
Bananas and the old crowd pleaser, the white potato, are at the top of the potassium ladder. A long term study at the US Tufts University shows that people who eat plenty of fruit and veggies rich in potassium and magnesium incur significantly less bone loss than those with lower intakes. The reason is that when the body produces too much acid, usually from an overdose of red meat or animal protein, it depends on these nutrients to neutralize it. In the interim, the body borrows calcium from our bones to do that work.
White root vegetables like onions and garlic are also packed with nutritional benefits. The sulphur compound, allicin, is responsible for most of the plant’s medicinal benefits. Claims that daily intake can lower the risk of heart disease by as much as 76 percent abound. It manages this by thinning the blood, which staves off the formation of dangerous clots. Additionally it is an antioxidant of note. It’s antibacterial and antifungal properties help against yeast and sinus infections and even the common cold. As an added bonus, it can repel ticks (and other people, of course).
Onions, on the other hand, contain quercetin, an anti-oxidant that can help reduce inflammation. On top of this it also improves the body’s absorption of vitamin C. Even cooking won’t destroy its benefits.
Eating a variety of foods is the first principle of a healthy diet. All those colourful fruit and vegetables offer their own unique combination of nutritional assets and the best way to benefit from these, whilst avoiding imbalances, is to enjoy a wide variety.