Copyright 2005 Jane Oelke
We know we need to eat a minimum of 5 servings of fruit and vegetables everyday. Actually now, to prevent cancer, 8 to 13 servings per day are recommended. A serving is one cup of raw fruits or vegetables, or ½ cup cooked. At a recent lecture I asked a lunch audience to raise their hand if they had at least one fruit or vegetable already that day. No one in that group raised their hand. This is not uncommon. Our processed and convenience foods contain very few fruits and vegetables.
To prevent chronic diseases, fruits and especially vegetables are very important. Vegetables especially have antioxidants, minerals, and phytochemicals in correct combination that help keep blood sugar in balance, create better energy in body, and along with fruits build up immune system.
Each color found in fruits and vegetables focus on building immune system in its own way. It is important to get a variety of colors, so that you will get a full range of phytochemicals (beneficial plant chemicals) in your daily diet. Research is finding that eating whole fruits and vegetables gives you many more nutrients than you could possible add to a vitamin and mineral supplement. There are over 12,000 phytochemicals, and I have yet to see a supplement, unless it has whole fruits and vegetables in it, have all of 180 different vitamins or minerals that are required by our body to function daily.
The different colors in fruits and vegetables help our immune system react to different stresses in our daily life. So look at different colors in your diet. See if they include each of colors listed below. This is one way to know that you are getting full benefit of nutrients possible in your diet.
Green Foods – broccoli, kale, leaf and romaine lettuce, spinach, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. Green foods are especially good for circulatory system. They contain many minerals and B-complex vitamins. Some phytochemicals found in green foods are sulforaphane and indoles that are very powerful anti-cancer compounds. Researchers have tried to use these as isolated phytochemicals but find that they only work while in whole food form.
Red Foods – tomatoes, watermelon, red cabbage. Red foods contain many phytochemicals that reduce free radical damage. The phytochemical called lycopene is especially helpful to prevent prostate problems, and reduce effects of sun damage on skin. Lycopene is phytochemical that make red foods get their red color.