While we all know that eating fruits and vegetables is important, do you truly know why?
Phytochemicals are the nutrients in plants that help prevent cancer and other diseases. They are also responsible for the color in produce, as well as protecting plants from bugs and the sun. These phytochemicals form as the vegetables and fruits ripen on the vine. This means that in order to ensure nutrients are preserved, produce should be picked just as it ripens.
Taking it a step further, in addition to eating fresh fruits and vegetables, it’s important to “eat the rainbow” as well. Most people do not get enough variety in their diets and eating foods of different colors ensures getting the necessary vitamins and minerals. This is especially important if you are trying to conceive or pregnant—it takes extra to grow a baby!
Unfortunately, many vitamins and minerals are stripped from fruits and vegetables when they are picked prior to fully ripening, This typically occurs when foods are shipped long distances and then sit on grocery store shelves for weeks. By opting for fruits and vegetables that are in season, this almost guarantees that the produce hasn’t travelled too far, thus maintaining their nutrients.
So what colors are in season now?
Garlic, onions, potatoes
- Phytonutrient powerhouse: Quercetin, which is a natural anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory compound.
Corn, melons, peppers, summer squash, lemon
- Phytonutrient powerhouse: Lutein, which is best known for protecting against UV-B rays.
Okra, cucumbers, green beans, peppers, arugula
- Phytonutrient powerhouse: Phytosterols, which block the absorption of cholesterol in the body.
Peppers, tomatoes, radishes, rhubarb, cherries
- Phytonutrient powerhouse: Lycopene which is a powerful antioxidant, and also quite helpful for increasing sperm count in men.
Melon, peaches, carrots
- Phytonutrient powerhouse: Beta-caroteine, which helps with immune function, vision, and reproduction.
Figs, blackberries, blueberries, eggplant, plums
- Phytonutrient powerhouse: Resveratrol, which promotes healthy aging by reducing inflammation.
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