Nature's Rainbow: How to Get a Healthy Balance of Phytonutrients Nutrients (and the Magic Word Is Color) by Susan Bowerman, M.S., R.D., CSSD, CSOWM, FAND
Nature’s rainbow – in the form of colorful fruits and vegetables – provides more than just a feast for the eyes. If you’re looking for a solution to up your nutrient intake for a more balanced diet, add more colorful fruits and vegetables to your meals and snacks. Not only are these healthy foods loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber, many of the pigments they contain provide unique nutritional benefits, too. Here are the benefits of eating more fruits and veggies, and why new combinations and varieties may provide an added benefit:
- Eat More Color: We often associate foods with a single nutrient or condition – we might eat oranges for vitamin C or carrots because their vitamin A helps promote healthy eyesight. But many of the pigments that give the fruits and vegetables their beautiful colors – the so-called phytonutrients – act as antioxidants, which helps the body to defend against cell and tissue damage that results from everyday metabolism.
- Variety Is Important: Different fruits and vegetables have their own unique pigments and phytonutrient profiles, so the level of antioxidant activity varies among foods, too. For instance, deep-red blood oranges provide different nutrients and pigments than what is found in their bright orange relatives, and so their health benefits are a little different too. Remember to not just eat an abundance, but a wide variety.
- Mix It Up: Research has shown the effects of phytochemicals are enhanced when they are combined – working together so that the sum of their benefits is greater than the individual parts. For example, it has been shown that the antioxidant effects of a combination of red apples, blueberries, grapes and oranges are much larger than when any of the fruits are taken individually, and a great reason to add some summer fruit salads to your menus.
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