Researchers have proven decisively that fruits and vegetables contain unique substances: antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that protect us from disease and promote good health.
Because most fruits and vegetables are virtually fat free, they are the perfect food for those trying to lose weight. Also, people who eat plenty of fruits and vegetables maintain their weight loss more successfully.
Recent recommendations for getting enough water into your daily diet advise that including fruits and vegetables can help you meet daily fluid requirements. That’s because most are full of water.
Finally, even those vegetables that contain fat, including avocados and olives, offer heart-healthy monounsaturated fat.
Paint your plate with deep colors and enjoy the flavor and anti-cancer nutrients.
Green: The greens are known for their folic acid, a B vitamin, but are also rich in vitamins A and C, and other phytochemicals. Some are good sources of calcium. The darker the green color, the more nutritious the vegetable. Some of the best are broccoli, kale and vegetables from the cruciferous family, including cabbage and Brussels sprouts.
Orange: The orange fruits and vegetables offer a treasure trove of beta carotene. They protect cells from the ravages of oxidation and promote cell immunity. Some of the best are mango, cantaloupe and apricots. Sweet potatoes are full of good nutrition.
Berry, Berry Good! All berries are so easy to like, and do so much for our immunity.
Strawberries are low in calories and packed with high levels of fiber, vitamin C and other antioxidants that help bolster the immune system.
Blueberries are super fruits, high in antioxidants including vitamins C and A. They also offer 3.5 grams of fiber per cup. Researchers have found that blueberries are number one in antioxidant activity, compared to 40 other fresh fruits and veggies. They credit anthocyanin, the pigment that gives blueberries their color, as the active antioxidant. Other research points to anti-aging properties of blueberries, as well as their ability to lower risk for arterial plaque build-up and provide protection from urinary track infections.
Other Reds: Rosy fruits that are helpful in promoting urinary tract and heart health as well as reducing risk for some cancers include cherries, cranberries, pink and red grapefruit, red grapes, red apples and pomegranates. Red vegetables to love include beets, red peppers, radishes, rhubarb, radicchio and tomatoes.
By Susan Burke, eDiets.com, July 2006