Sunday, January 25, 2015

5 Fruits and Vegetables a Day for a Healthier You

Last week I wrote about the Mediterranean diet.  A major component of this diet is eating many fruits and vegetables.   A very easy way to ensure you are getting enough fruits and vegetables is to focus on eating at least 5 A DAY.  Not only are fruits and vegetables loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber they are also loaded with PHYTOCHEMICALS.   “Phyto” is from the Greek and means “plant”.  Phytochemicals are only in plant foods, are not nutrients but are ever so important to your health.   Different fruits and vegetables have different phytochemicals so varying the kind of fruits and vegetable and varying the color is important. 
Blue/Purple - helps fight aging, improves your memory and reduces cancer risk.   Choose plums, eggplant, raisins, blueberries, black olives, blackberries, purple grapes
Red – great for your heart, tomatoes and other red vegetables and fruits have lycopene – a phytochemical that is an antioxidant.  Helps lower your bad cholesterol, lowers your blood pressure and helps reduce your cancer risk.  Choose cherries, cranberries, red grapes, watermelon, tomatoes, strawberries and raspberries.  You can also get lycopene from spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, tomato catsup, tomato soup, salsa, cocktail sauce and tomato juice. 
Orange/Yellow – great for vision.  Have trouble seeing in the dark, driving at night?  Eat some carrots.  These phytochemicals also help your immune system and reduce cancer risk.  Choose cantaloupe, mango, papaya, sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, oranges, pineapple, apricots, tangerines, yellow corn, acorn squash.
Green – Also good for your vision and also reduces cancer risk.  The darker the green the better.  Say good-bye to iceberg lettuce and choose spinach, collards, kale, dark leafy greens, broccoli, limes, asparagus, green beans, green pepper, avocados, green grapes, kiwi,  cucumbers, honeydew and snow peas. 
Having a salad made with a mix of greens?  Add some sliced carrot chips, some diced green pepper, some tomato slices, some radishes, some black olives, and even some dried cranberries.  It is easy to add phytochemicals to your meals.  

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