You’ll hear all the time to EAT THE RAINBOW, and this refers to eating fruits and vegetables of all colors, as much as you can! In fact, a recent study showed that eating a large variety of fruits and vegetables on a weekly basis decreased the risk of breast cancer substantially. In addition to lowering the risk of disease, the flavonoids found in fruits and vegetables have been shown to keep telomeres healthy, which are a huge aspect of aging. Telomeres are the segments of DNA that serve as protective caps for our chromosomes. When telomeres become too short, cells start to malfunction and die. The length of our telomeres is directly related to aging. Variety is key, and each color has different nutritional benefits. Let’s take a look at each color group and what they have to offer.
Red fruits and vegetables led by tomatoes and strawberries, are rich in lycopene or anthocyanins. Both of these flavonoids promote heart health, brain health, and lower the risk of cancer. Lycopene has shown promise in preventing certain forms of cancer, and fights oxidative stress.
Fruits and Veggies: Strawberries, Tomatoes, Watermelon, Cherries, Cranberries, Pink Grapefruit, Red Bell Pepper
ORANGE AND YELLOW
Yellow and Orange fruits and vegetables contain carotenoids, which give them their color. Carrots and sweet potatoes contain beta-carotene, which helps to prevent both cataracts and macular degeneration, which is why your mom may always tell you to eat your carrots for good vision! Oranges and citrus fruits provide an excellent source of Vitamin C.
Fruits and Veggies: Apricots, Peaches, Cantaloupe, Mangoes, Oranges, Tangerines, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Pumpkin
We all know that green is where it’s at, especially green leafy vegetables! The vitamin K, beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin that you’ll find in spinach, romaine and kale is great for brain health, cardiovascular and heart health.
Fruits and Vegetables: Apples, Spinach, Kale, Romaine, Brussel Sprouts, Bok Choy, Swiss Chard, Peas, Kiwi, Broccoli, Cucumbers, Zucchini
This group, led by blueberries, is full of anthocyanins and polyphenols, flavonoids that fight free radicals. Anthocyanins help to stabilize blood sugar and promote healthy collagen production which helps to soften wrinkles. Anthocyanins have also been shown to keep blood cells moving so that they do not form clots, to reduce low density lipoprotein cholesterol, and to reduce inflammation, the driver of chronic disease.
Fruits and Veggies: Blueberries, Blackberries, Purple Grapes, Cherries, Plums, Red Cabbage, Red Onions, Eggplant
Don’t forget white! They may not be that colorful, but they have many benefits.
These are mainly your cruciferous veggies, as well as onions, garlic and cabbage.
Cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables contain Indole-3-carbinol which is a phytonutrient that helps to detox the liver. It also contains choline that helps the digestive system. Onions, especially red and yellow, are anti-inflammatory and high in fructans, which are good for most, but trouble for some. Fructans are prebiotic soluble fibers that feed the good bacteria in the gut. Onions also contain quercetin, which is a flavonoid that boosts the immune system and is said to reduce allergy symptoms for seasonal allergies. Garlic is a potent vegetable that contains high levels of antioxidants that fight oxidative stress.
Fruits and Veggies: Garlic, Onions, Cauliflower, Cabbage
Eat as many fruits and vegetables as you can daily, and go for a large variety to get a variety of antioxidants and phytonutrients, for delaying the symptoms of aging, and staying healthy.