Nature’s Harvests Provide All Your Body Needs
by Jason “Farmer Jay” and Denia McCobb
Vitamins, minerals, supplements, enriched flours, iron fortified, calcium and DHA enhanced, protein boosters, fat metabolizers, and the list goes on and on and on. All of the supplementation in the world is unnecessary if you just look to nature for its bountiful harvests and let rainbow be your guide. Yes, the rainbow … eat the rainbow.
If a picture can speak a thousand words, let the colors of the produce rainbow tell you the story of the key to your optimal health. Buying fruits and veggies while they’re in season gets you the most nutrient dense produce your money can buy because it didn’t travel very far before making it to your plate.
Start with RED. Red fruits and vegetables are known for lycopene, a powerful cancer fighting antioxidant. Specifically, it’s known for reducing cell damage caused from toxins and aging. It’s also shown to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. (Heart disease claims 616,067 lives per year, beating cancer by 53,192 deaths a year.) Apples, pomegranates, tomatoes, cranberries, raspberries, strawberries … go eat something red. Your free radicals and heart will thank you.
Moving on to PURPLE, did someone say wine? Well, I’m not sure it measures up nutrient-wise to the tiny little gems loaded with antioxidants, especially purple grapes. This low-calorie snack keeps us looking younger longer and like many of the other colors of the rainbow, they protect us against cancer in addition to improving memory, so you won’t forget where you put down your glass of wine. Eggplant, a delicious purple vegetable, provides the body with a potent antioxidant found in the skin, called nasunin, which inhibits the spread of cancer. Eggplants also improve cardiovascular health. One study showed that they improve blood flow in the blood vessels. They are chock full of tryptophan, which can help you sleep at night and a good night’s sleep will always make you look and feel your best.
Now for BLUE! Want proof that great things do come in small packages? Try blueberries! These little blue nuggets pack a huge punch of power. Using a test called ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) it has been determined that one cup of this low calorie, high fiber, nutritious treat provides you with the equivalent antioxidant content of five servings of carrots, broccoli, squash and apples providing you with vibrant, firm skin and a boost in brain power. Based on the data from the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, blueberries are among the fruits with the highest antioxidant activity.
In the words of Cold Play’s Chris Martin, “Look how they shine for you … and they were all YELLOW”… lemons, plantains, pineapple, star fruit, yellow winter and summer squash, squash blossoms, yellow peppers, corn, quince and bananas. These sunny colored foods teeming with carotenoids and bioflavonoids represent a class of water-soluble plant pigments that function as antioxidants. They are also loaded with vitamin C, helping your heart, vision, digestion and immune system. Yellow foods help maintain healthy skin, heal wounds, and build stronger bones and teeth. Dandelion in particular is known to assist with weight control and anemia and eliminates and reduces indigestion and gas build up.
Cantaloupes, butternut squash, apricots, carrots, mangos, nectarines, papayas, peaches, sweet potatoes, pumpkins and of course, oranges: ORANGE fruits and veggies contain beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, flavonoids, lycopene, potassium and vitamin C. These nutrients reduce age-related macular degeneration and the risk of prostate cancer, lower LDL cholesterol and blood pressure, promote collagen formation and healthy joints, fight harmful free radicals, encourage alkaline balance and work with magnesium and calcium to build healthy bones.
Finally there’s GREEN. Green vegetables contain chlorophyll, lutein, zeaxanthin, calcium, folate, vitamin C and beta-carotene and they are loaded with fiber. The nutrients found in these vegetables reduce cancer risks, lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels, normalize digestion time, support retinal health and vision, fight harmful free-radicals and boost immune system activity. So put down the supplements, cancel your Botox appointments and make eating the rainbow a fun, year round practice, for the love of good health.
Here are a few simple ideas for getting more veggies into your diet.
1. Plan ahead.
2. Go vegetarian one to two times per week.
3. Puree veggies and put them into your sauces, soups and other foods.
4. Visit farmers’ markets to get seasonal produce.
5. Get the kids involved. They love a colorful plate, so make shapes and faces on their plates with fruits and veggies.
6. Grow your own garden and get your kids to help (kids will eat what they helped to grow).
7. Buy local.