color code your eating
by janet zimmerman - the press enterprise
nutritionists recommend eating five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day for optimum health. but only a third of americans fulfill that requirement, according to the government estimates. in hopes of getting more people to eat their veggies, the national cancer institute, the american cancer society and other groups have teemed up on a ' 5 a day for better health ' campaign.
they are promoting a colorful diet, with recommendations to eat produce from the five color groups every day. each color represents different phytochemicals, which are plant compounds that fight cancer, heart disease and the effects of aging.
phytonutrients, also known as phytochemicals, are natural plant compounds that can help protect against cancer, heart disease and age-related cognitive and physical decline. research also has linked the compounds - which include antioxidants, vitamins and minerals - to strong bones and teeth and reduced incidence of muscular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness among the elderly.
researches know that none of the phytochemicals work alone, they are boosted by each other, the more variety you get, the more benefits you get. and that is why health experts promote a color-coded diet.
here is a breakdown of the groups and their benefits:
blue & purple- benefits - lowers risk of some cancers, helps maintain healthy urinary tract, boosts memory function, aids in healthy aging.
includes - blackberries, blueberries, black currants, dried plums, elderberries, purple figs, purple grapes, plums, raisins, purple asparagus, purple cabbage, purple carrots, eggplant, purple belgian endice, purple peppers, potatoes [ purple fleshed ], black salsify.
green - benefits - lowers risk of some cancers, aids in vision health, promotes strong bones and teeth.
includes - avocados, green apples, green grapes, honeydew, kiwifruit, limes, green pears, artichokes, arugula, asparagus, broccoflower, broccoli, broccoli rabe, brussel sprouts, chinese cabbage, green beans, green cabbage, celery, chayotesquash, cucumbers, endive, leafy greens, leeks, lettuce, green onions, okra, peas, green pepper, sugar snaps, peas, spinach, watercress, zucchini.
white - benefits - raises heart health, maintains cholesterol levels that are already healthy, lowers risk of some cancers.
includes - bananas, brown pears, dates, white nectarines, white peaches, cauliflower, garlic, ginger, jerusalem artichoke, jicama, kohlrabi, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, potatoes [white fleshed ] shallots, turmips, white corn.
yellow & orange - benefits - helps sustain a healthy heart, promotes vision health, boosts immune system, lowers risk of some cancers.
includes - yellow apples, apricots, cantaloupes, yellow figs, grapefruit, golden kiwifruit, lemons, mangoes, nectarines, oranges, papayas, peaches, yellow pears, persimmons, pineapples, tangerines, yellow watermelon, yellow beets, butternut squash, carrots, yellow peppers, yellow potatoes, pumpkin, rutabagas, yellow summer squash, sweet corn, sweet potatoes, yellow tomatoes, yellow winter squash.
red - benefits - raises heart health, boosts memory, helps maintain healthy urinary tract, lowers risk of some cancers.
includes - red apples, blood oranges, cherries, cranberries, red grapes, pink and red grapefruit, red pears, pomegranates, raspberries, strawberries, watermelon, beets, red peppers, radishes, radicchio, red onions, red potatoes, rhubarb, tomatoes.
if you are shooting for a healthful diet packed with colorful fruits and vegetables, don't forget the nuts. nuts provide the brown color. here we have another plant food that is traditionally not viewed as a fruit; but could be used instead of animal products with health advantages. said dr. joan sabate, a loma linda university professor, who has spend 15 years studying the benefits of nuts.
nuts contain antioxidants, which help prevent heart disease, said sabate, chair of the university's nutrition department. they also provide fiber and high quality protein without the fat. one of sabate's studies, published in 1993 in the new england journal of medicine, found positive effects on blood cholesterol in healthy young men who replaced some of the saturated fats in their diets with walnuts.
other research has shown similar benefits for almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios and peanuts.