Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Colors of the Rainbow

Eating foods in a variety of colors is just what your diet needs.

We’ve all been told how important it is to eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. But did you know that variety is just as important as quantity? Colorful fruits and vegetables provide essential nutrients that our bodies need.

The natural pigments in each fruit and vegetable contain specific vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help us to fight diseases. For example, fruits rich in the color red - such as strawberries, raspberries and cranberries - are loaded with vitamin C. This powerful vitamin is effective in decreasing your risk of heart disease, arthritis and even cancer. What about taking vitamin or mineral supplements in lieu of eating produce? Research has found that substituting supplements for whole foods is not a beneficial trade off. Eating produce gives your body fiber, which can help fight against cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Benefits by Color

Red/Purple/Blue - These pigments provide our bodies with powerful antioxidants that work to fight off free radicals. Free radicals damage our cells and can interfere with our immune system which can eventually lead to disease. Add raspberries, blueberries, or purple grapes to your diet to give your body a healthy boost of antioxidants.

Orange/Yellow - Think oranges, peaches, carrots, and corn. These lively orange and yellow pigment foods are packed with vitamin C. They also contain beta-carotene, an antioxidant which becomes vitamin A in the body and is important in maintaining good vision, healthy skin and decreasing your risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Other key nutrients found in these foods include potassium and folic acid.

Green leafy greens - such as kale, spinach and lettuce - are considered one of the most nutrient-dense foods available. These foods are high in vitamin A, vitamin K and are also a great source of calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium. When it comes to leafy greens, the darker the better. Foods like broccoli, bell peppers, kiwis and pears are also a great source of vitamin C.

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