It has been proven that eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables have a lot of healthy advantages. It is recommended that we eat a variety of colors of fruits and vegetables which help ensure that we are getting plenty of nutrients. Studies show that eating healthy can lessen the effects of heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, some types of cancers, some eye diseases (macular degeneration), irritable bowel disease, and diverticulitis.
Specifically, red fruits (such as strawberries, tomatoes, watermelon, apples, and cherries) contain nutrients such as lycopene and ellagic acid and have been shown to help arthritis, lower cholesterol and improve blood pressure.
Yellow-Orange fruits and vegetables have beta-carotene, flavonoids, lycopene, and vitamin C. These foods help promote healthy joints, help prevent prostate cancer, lower cholesterol and blood pressure as well. The fruits in this group include delicious foods such as oranges, mangos, pineapples, carrots, apricots, and peaches.
Green veggies (i.e. leafy greens, celery, peas, limes, cabbage, honey dew, etc…) have chlorophyll, vitamin C, Beta-carotene, calcium, and folic acid. These nutrients have been found to improve vision, help with digestion, improve cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as boost the immune system.
White Fruits and vegetables (such as bananas, white corn, onions, ginger, cauliflower) contain beta-glucans and lignans which improve the immune system, assist in balancing hormone levels and help decrease the risk of certain cancers such as prostate cancer, colon cancer, and breast cancer.
Dark fruits and vegetables (Blue and Purple) contain lutein, vitamin C, flavonoids, and fiber. They also help with vision, improve digestion, enhance calcium absorption, contain anti-inflammation properties, and reduce cancer risks. Foods in this group include: grapes, eggplant, plums, prunes, raisins, and figs.
Unfortunately, potatoes are very starchy and not considered a vegetable according to the food pyramid and should be eaten in moderation.
It is generally suggested that we eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Consider getting organic or locally grown vegetables. According to organic food producers, organic food is higher in vitamins, minerals, and fiber and contains no pesticides unlike nonorganic foods. A possible day could contain: a pear with breakfast, lettuce and tomatoes on a sandwich at lunch, a banana as a daytime snack, a cup of leafy veggies at dinner, and a half cup of fruit with yogurt or low fat whipped cream for dessert.
Remember… have fun, be healthy, remember to exercise, and EAT THE RAINBOW!!!
Lumberton Health Center is an affiliate of Robeson Health Corporation. This article is courtesy of Dr. Donee Thomas-Patterson, a friend of the practice who is a board certified family physician in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.