How Colorful is Your Sink?

Posted by on May 3, 2012 in General | 0 comments

… Colors Abound in Mine!

How Colorful is Your Sink, photo by Daily Forage.com

It can be easy to get into a rut of eating the same fruits and vegetables over and over in our daily routines. While I would never discourage you from eating fruits and vegetables, it is important to consider if you are reaping all the available benefits for your efforts. It seems everywhere we go we find nutritionists, allergists, fitness gurus, and even a small handful of MDs espousing the benefits of a well-balanced variety of these vitamin-rich foods. And they’re right! Including generous amounts of fruits and vegetables as part of a well-balanced diet has been shown to help the body maintain better health, reduce obesity, and potentially reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, some types of cancer, and type 2 diabetes, just to name a few of the high-risk diseases plaguing our society today. But why is this variety so important? Basically, different colors contain different vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants. Eating a virtual rainbow of these foods can supply one's body with more balanced nutrition, so your good efforts pay greater dividends. And who can argue with that reasoning?

This brings me back to my original question … How colorful is your sink after preparing a meal? The more colorful the discards are in your sink when you’ve finished prepping a meal … you know the dicing, slicing, chopping, peeling … the more likely it is that you’ve consumed a good variety of vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants. “But this requires more work, right?”, I hear you asking. “And what’s the best way to do this because I have such picky eaters at home.” 

Start slow. Trying too many new foods at one time can potentially have negative repurcussions. There are a couple of important reasons I say this. First, when you’re introducing a new fruit or vegetable, if there is any type of reaction to it, you want to be able to easily identify the culprit. Give a new food 24-72 hours before introducing another one. Secondly, usually new ideas are more readily accepted if they don’t seem overwhelming initially. Sidebar here … I made the mistake of being so excited to have my new Hurom juicer and reap all the benefits of every fruit, vegetable, and herb it could process, that I went a bit overboard. Yep, I threw caution to the wind and well, let’s just say that the color was better than the taste, and the color was something “unnatural looking”, even though it was more natural than any juice I’d ever purchased from the store. But I drank the whole glass of it, if for no other reason than to have this be a constant reminder to curb my overzealousness. My son tasted it and he still is gun-shy of my improved juicing abilities. 

Another helpful tip: start with foods you know and enjoy, and work from there. For example, if oranges are a favorite, try introducing tangerines, minneolas, red and yellow grapefruit, tangelos, etc. Or if sweet potatoes are a hit, try introducing rutabagas by way of a mashed sweet potato/mashed rutabaga duo side dish. When making a salad with iceberg lettuce, add just a small handful of finely chopped spinach and romaine leaves. If raisins are a taste treat, next time include a couple of dried cherries or blueberries. Maybe no one will even notice. Be creative … it’s okay to be the master of disguise. Gradually the taste buds will become familiar with the new flavors, and the unveiling of these new foods can happen over time, even while the nutrients are sneaking their way into the daily menu. 

Here is a list of some delicious and nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables to help move you out of the rut, create a colorful palate in your sink, and bring you a rainbow of disease-fighting choices. And if you’re already great at using variety, don’t stop here. Move into vegetables and fruits more commonly found in other cuisines by visiting the local farmer’s markets or your ethnic stores. It’s amazing what you can find. Be sure to share your discoveries, or your “master of disguise” stories with us. At the bottom of this article you’ll find the health benefits of each nutrient listed.

 

Nutrient-Rich Foods … by Color

Red – most are rich in vitamin A and vitamin C, lycopene, quercetin, flavonoids

any variety of red apples

red grapes

tomatoes

beets

raspberries

cherries

red grapefruit

watermelon

cranberries

pomegranate

red bell pepper

hot red peppers

 

Orange – most are rich in vitamin E, vitamin C, beta-carotene, potassium

oranges

mango

papaya

cantaloupe 

carrots

sweet potato

yams

apricots

tangerines

pumpkin

squash

 

Yellow – most are rich in beta-carotene, vitamin E, vitamin C, potassium 

lemons

Golden Delicious apples

rutabaga

yellow grapefruit

pineapple

yellow bell pepper

banana peppers

sweet corn

 

Green – most are rich in vitamin K, many fall into the cruciferous category

Granny Smith apples

green grapes

lime

kiwi

kale

lettuce

spinach

broccoli

garden peas

snow or snap peas

asparagus

string beans

broccoli

green cabbage

celery

avocado

star fruit

parsley

cilantro

herbs

green bell pepper

 

Blue and Purple – most are rich in anthocyanin and flavonoids 

blueberries

eggplant

purple grapes

plums

blackberries

prunes

purple cabbage

 

White – most are rich in quercetin

bananas

cauliflower

radishes

hicama

parsnips

russet potatoes

onions

leeks 

anise

celery root

fennel

 

While many of the fruits and vegetables can be categorized by nutrients or food “species”, for the purpose of this article, I’ve grouped them by color, making it easier to choose a variety of nutrients while offering up food with eye-appeal. Here are some of the health benefits of the vitamins and nutrients listed above:

Anthocyanin – a powerful antioxidant that aids in reducing risks of heart disease and certain types of cancer, stroke, and helps boost memory 

Beta-carotene – a powerful antioxidant that aids in reducing risks of heart disease and certain types of cancer

Cruciferous foods – high in vitamin A, vitamin C, Folic Acid (which aids in preventing some birth defects), aid in reducing certain types of cancer, heart disease

Flavonoids – rich in antioxidants, aid in reducing risk of heart disease, cancer, also may help reduce the risk of osteoporosis and diabetes 

Lycopene – a powerful antioxidant that aids in neutralizing free radicals, may aid in reducing risks of heart disease, certain types of cancer

Quercetin – a powerful antioxidant that aids in neutralizing free radicals

Potassium – proper levels of potassium aid in maintaining normal blood pressure, reducing risk of stroke and heart disease, arthritis, and some types of cancer 

Vitamin A – maintains specialized tissue health, promotes normal development of teeth and soft and skeletal tissue 

Vitamin C – helps protect against heart disease, certain types of cancers, and boosts the immune system

Vitamin E - a powerful antioxidant that aids in reducing risks of heart disease and certain types of cancer

Vitamin K – helps blood clot normally, supports increased bone density, rich in antioxidants that help fight free radicals

This is just a partial list of all the nutrients provided by a well-balanced consumption of fruits and vegetables. 

**I am not a medical professional. Always consult your physician concerning your dietary needs. 

 

References:

A Healthier Michigan: Using Color as a Guide to a Better Diet: 9 Health Benefits of Red Fruits and Vegetables

Livestrong.com: Nutrient Found in Yellow & Orange Fruits and Vegetables

Livestrong.com: List of Foods with Flavonoids

Medline Plus: Benefits of Vitamin A

North Dakota State University: What Color is Your Food?

 

Safe food is a journey … Thrive!

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