July 20, 2008

Eat for Color

Since the phyto(plant)chemicals that make fruits and vegetables so important for your health are also the source of the pigments that provide color, for optimum benefit fruits and vegetables should be chosen with an eye to color.
Red: tomatoes, pink grapefruit and watermelon; rich in the carotenoid lycopene, a potent scavenger of gene-damaging free radicals; appears to protect against prostate cancer as well as heart and lung disease.
Red/purple: red and blue grapes, red wine, blueberries, strawberries, beets, eggplant, red cabbage, red peppers, plums, and red apples; loaded with powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins believed to delay cellular aging and prevent the formation of blood clots.
Orange: carrots, cantaloupe, winter squash, sweet potatoes, and mangoes; rich in cancer-fighter alpha carotene, along with beta carotene, which protects the skin from sun damage and promotes repair of damaged DNA.
Orange/yellow: oranges, peaches, papaya, and nectarines; provide beta cryptothanxin, which supports intracellular communication and may help prevent heart disease.
Yellow/green: spinach, collards, corn, green peas, avocado, and honeydew; sources of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, all strongly linked to a reduced risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of preventable blindness in developed countries. Green: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, bok choy, chard, and other dark leafy greens; rich in cancer-blocking chemicals like sulforaphane, isocyanate and indoles.
White/green: garlic, onions, leeks, celery, asparagus, pears, green grapes, and white wine; the onion family contains allicin, which has antitumor properties. Other foods in this group contain antioxidant flavonoids like quercetin and kaempferol.

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