You’ve been told your whole life to eat fruits and veggies, but now there is a very exciting reason to do so, and to eat a lot of them. A study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health shows that eating fruits and veggies actually helps you live longer! Researchers found that eating seven or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day could decrease your chances of death from any cause by a whopping 42%. Even if you don’t pound cans of spinach like Popeye, increasing your intake even a little bit could extend your life. The study found that each additional serving of vegetables reduced mortality 16%, and 10% for fruits.
Eat your fruits and veggies, but don’t just stick to the green stuff! There is a whole rainbow of tantalizing produce to choose from. Wake up your palate and you plate with different color combinations! Every color of fruit and vegetable contains a different set of phytonutrients. It’s important to eat from every color of the rainbow to get a broad spectrum of nutrition. This excerpt from our article, 7 Colors of the Phytonutrient Rainbow, explains which phytonutrients are found in each color of fruit an vegetable and why they are necessary for optimum health:
Anthocyanins are flavonoids that act as powerful antioxidants, neutralizing free radicals that cause aging and degenerative disease. There’s even a connection between this phytonutrient and decreased visceral (abdominal) fat! A 2008 study from Chubu University in Japan found a link between anthocyanin intake and reduced incidence of metabolic disorders, including abdominal weight gain, hypertension, and impaired glucose and insulin metabolism. True, blue anthocyanin sources include red cabbage, blueberries, blackberries, acai berries, cherries, grapes, blue potatoes, eggplant, and radicchio.
Multiple studies indicate that diets rich in beta-carotene lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer. This amazing phytonutrient falls into the carotenoid class that (along with the flavonoid group) has been credited in a 2010 Tufts University study for providing photo-protective and antioxidant action in the skin. In short, these inflammation, wrinkle, and cancer-preventing nutrients protect your skin from the inside out! To get a bit of beta-carotene, try sweet potato, carrots and carrot juice, winter squash, pumpkin, and cantaloupe.
Lycopene has been in the news a lot lately for its positive influence on prostate health, but it’s also thought to prevent cervical dysplasia in conjunction with other carotenoids. In other words, it’s also good for the uterus, making it an equal-opportunity nutrient. In addition, a 1996 University of Minnesota study found a significant increase in longevity based upon the blood lycopene levels of nuns living the same lifestyle, in the same conditions. If you’re ready to get into the red, try tomato and tomato products, watermelon, pink grapefruit, guava, and papaya.
The light absorbing properties of lutein are associated with eye health involving a decrease in cataract formation and macular degeneration. Mellow, yellow lutein sources include spinach, kale, collards, mustard and dandelion greens, summer squash, and pumpkin.
Chlorophyll’s abilities to bind toxins and decrease oxidative stress make it a powerful bodily detoxifier and explain how it can actually reduce body odor. You’ll be seeing green with chlorophyll sources Spinachlike spinach, kale, Swiss chard, arugula, green beans—any green vegetable. The darker, the better.
Another detoxifier, sulphoraphane is part of the isotheocyanate class of phytonutrients that has been cited in multiple studies as a cancer preventative and detoxifier of carcinogens. Some super sulphoraphane sources include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, broccoli sprouts, cabbage, bok choy, cauliflower, and watercress.
WhiteThe anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial qualities of allicin lend to its reputation as an inhibitor of heart disease and gastric cancer as well as a potent immune booster. All-around awesome allicin sources include garlic, onion, leek, shallot, and chives.
Do you eat every color of fruit and vegetable? Which are you favorites? Tell us in the comments!