Typically, as I stroll through the grocery aisles slowly pushing my shopping cart, I begin crossing items off of my list as I place them in the cart. As I continue to stroll along, I check out my list constantly to make sure that I don’t miss anything. As I get closer to the produce section of the marketplace, I see a magnificent spread of beautiful reds, yellows, greens and much more. As I approach the area, I can no longer resist the temptation to venture into the produce section like a kid in a candy store! It’s almost like the fruit and veggies were each saying, “pick me, pick me”! And that , I did. So in the next few paragraphs, we’ll take a look at the important benefits of adding these beautiful, luscious and tasty foods to our pantries, recipes , and plates on a daily basis.
Plant foods, more specifically, salads have long gotten a bad wrap and called things like rabbit’s food, diet food or boring. I’m here to tell you that plants are much more than that and some may go so far as to call them superfoods, medicine for the body or living foods. Technically, plant foods are a little bit of all of the above. They are loaded with essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and all sorts of goodness for the overall wellness of the body.
Phytonutrients are basically a color pallet of health. They are responsible for giving fruits and vegetables their rich, attractive colors and their powerful nutrients. I believe that it was designed that way so that we would be tempted to consume them, all in an effort to do the body good!
Orange fruits and vegetables give us carotenoids, which help prevent cancer and heart disease. Carotenoids can be found in carrots, mangoes, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, yams, squash and apricots. The richer the color, the higher the concentration of carotenoids. Red foods such as tomatoes, watermelon, guava, and red grapefruit contain a powerful carotenoid called lycopene. One study conducted by Harvard researchers showed lycopene to be effective in the prevention of prostate cancer. Ref. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 87 (Dec. 6, 1995) “The men in this study with the greatest protection against prostate cancer consumed at least 6.5 mg a day of lycopene from tomato products.” ‘Eat This and Live’, Dr. Don Colbert
The Green veggies which most health gurus rant and rave over, including, broccoli, kale, mustard greens, collard greens , contain more anticancer fighters than any other vegetables! This explains why they are all the rave. They are also high in lutein, which helps to lower the risk of macular degeneration, “the leading cause of blindness in older adults.” Dr. Don Colbert. Let us not forget about green tea with its antioxidant properties, which are more powerful than vitamins E and C. Drinking green tea with regularity has been shown to reduce the risk of numerous types of cancers.
Onions and garlic are a part of the white group of vegetables and bring to the table quercetin, which has antiviral and anticancer properties. The phytonutrients in garlic and onions are also an excellent anti-inflammatory and have been used throughout history in the Middle East and Asia for its potent medicinal uses. Other uses for these two powerful foods include, reducing blood pressure, improving cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart disease. With these two nutrient dense superfoods in the ‘war chest’, it’s an awesome win win strategy!
Now let’s take a look at orange/yellow and how they fight for us. In this group we find oranges , papayas, lemons, pineapple and nectarines, to name a few. These are rich in vitamin C and helps our bodies fight against free radical damage. As it is widely known, free radicals can cause oxidative stress and damage to cells causing illness and premature aging. These wonderful fruits are delicious eaten whole, which is the most beneficial due to the high fiber content, or in a refreshing smoothie.
It is a true saying that “you are what you eat”, so imagine how eating an array of beautiful, nutrient packed fruits and vegetables will make you feel on the inside and look on the outside. Keep in mind that we’ve only scratched the surface here. There are so many more colorful plants that are left to be explored. (Check out my post on the incredible, edible blueberries) With so many excellent fighters to choose from, winning at wellness is inevitable!
Eat, Drink & Be Well…