October 24, 2014
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Nutrition and Fitness

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Crack the Colour Code for Healthy Eating

Crack the fruit and veggie colour code

Crack the fruit and veggie colour code

Greens

Go beyond iceberg lettuce! Green fruits and veggies, such as avocados, green peppers, celery, kiwi fruits, cucumbers, asparagus, and even green apples, are tasty, nutritious options. They are thought to be loaded with vitamins, such as folate, minerals, and fibre. Lutein, found in hearty greens such as kale, chard, and romaine lettuce, may help to fend off macular degeneration, a major cause of vision loss and blindness in Canada. Bell peppers, broccoli, and the underrated Brussels sprout are all powerful sources of vitamin C. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that may lower cancer risk, improve iron absorption, and promote wound healing. Cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, and turnips may reduce the risk of cancerous tumours.

Yellow and orange

Orange is more than oranges, and beta-carotene shows up in more than just carrots. Beta-carotene, a nutrient also found in sweet potatoes, mangos, apricots, and cantaloupe, has antioxidant properties, helps prevent vitamin A deficiency, and may play a role in immune health. Vitamin C abounds in the yellow-orange arcs of the food rainbow, especially in papaya, grapefruit, oranges, pineapple, and cantaloupes. Pucker up to lemons and limes, too. Fully ripened ones will have the highest antioxidant content. Folate is also found in orange fruits and vegetables, and may help prevent certain birth defects and reduce the risk of heart disease. Yellow fruits and vegetables, such as pineapples, corn, and pears, are high in fibre and vitamin C.

Red

Seek out the blush of red and pinky-coloured vegetables and fruits for a good source of lycopene. A powerful antioxidant that may help prevent many kinds of cancers, lycopene crops up in tomatoes, watermelon, papaya, guava, and pink or red grapefruit. Lycopene may also slow the hardening of arteries and the growth of tumours. The unappreciated beet, with its intense red pigment, has shown promise against colon cancer and is a rich source of folic acid, which is involved in normal tissue growth.

Blue and purple

Head into the darker realms of the produce section and get the blues... and blacks and purples. Think blackberries, figs, plums, prunes, eggplants, and raisins. Low in calories, high in vitamin C and fibre, blueberries have been especially singled out as tiny nutritional powerhouses. Anthocyanin is the pigment responsible for the tint of these fruits and veggies and for their antioxidant qualities. In addition to their cancer-fighting acumen, anthocyanins may also support the vascular system. Find these nutrients in the fresh and frozen varieties of blue and purple fruits and veggies.

White, brown, and tan

While they're not as showy as the others, fruits and veggies with more subdued white, brown, or tan hues deserve a spot in your shopping cart. Spice things up with ginger, which may reduce pain after exercise or help with certain types of nausea, and garlic, suggested to prevent cancer and heart disease. These white vegetables contain allicin, which is also thought to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Though they are yellow on the outside, bananas' true benefits hide in the sweet, white, fleshy fruit inside. Bananas are high in potassium, a key element of a heart-healthy diet, and they can help your bones by preventing calcium loss. And like bananas, the lowly old parsnip has tons of fibre and potassium.

So, slice off strips of mango, feast on a fig, crack off some cauliflower, chomp on a cherry, or pop a pea pod. Explore your market's produce section, and push yourself to try something new: that ruffle-edged bundle of greens, an oddly-shaped tuber, a spiky fruit, or some dirt-smudged root vegetable with a fountain of fronds.

The more fresh produce that you become familiar with, the better your chances will become of meeting the Health Canada's recommendation of 7 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. And the health benefits increase if you eat them in combination.

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