Sunday, May 30, 2021

Why are berries and other fruit and veggies so good for your health?

 

What a great time of year to enjoy some fresh berries.  Last week my husband brought home some freshly picked strawberries.  Raspberries are soon to be plentiful but you can buy them all year.  Blueberries are considered a superfood.  My husband now says it is getting harder to even buy blueberries as they are sold out in many stores he goes to.  He now has to go to a store farther from our home in search of blueberries, but he did find a huge container of blueberries at Costco.  Searching out and stocking up on berries is worth it.  Why?  Because berries and other fruits and vegetables are so good for your health.  (See Superpower Fruits to Add to your Diet and Superpower Vegetables to Add to Your Diet .)

Berries contain lots of different “phytochemicals”

Berries are loaded with phytochemicals.  This sounds bad, but phytochemicals are good for your health.  Plants produce phytochemicals for protection.  “Phytochemicals are a plant’s way of protecting itself.  They help shield tender buds and sprouts from predators, the elements, and pollution.  These protective compounds are passed along to us when we eat plant foods.”  In fact, the term, phytochemicals, comes from “phyto” when means plant and “phytochemicals” are the good chemicals in the plant.  Interestingly, these phytochemicals that protect the plants also have great health benefits for us.   


How do phytochemicals help our health?

Researchers have found that phytochemicals are a huge benefit to our health.  One is they act as antioxidants which helps our bodies fight cancer and heart disease and reduce our risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  There are tens of thousands of phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables.  These phytochemicals give fruits and veggies their color – the orange in carrots, the blue in blueberries.  What is interesting is that different color fruits and veggies provide different phytochemicals.  So, eating a rainbow of colors is good for your health.  Get your phytochemicals from real fruit and veggies, not a supplement like you see advertised on TV.

Why are berries and other fruits and vegetables considered a “superfood”?

Different berries contain different phytochemicals and as noted different colors provide different phytochemicals. 

Blue and purple – blueberries, plums, grapes are rich in anthocyanins that help delay aging and help your heart by preventing blood clots.  The blue color may also help “boost your immune system”.  

Blueberries are low in calories, full of antioxidants – a superfood.

Red – strawberries, cherries, watermelon, cranberries, tomatoes, apples, red grapes, red peppers, raspberries and even red onions.  You also get the “red” color from ketchup, tomato juice, tomato sauce, and salsa.  All of these foods contain lycopene which you may have seen advertised as being good for your eyes.  Lycopene also prevents cell damage and may have a role in preventing cancers and boosting your immune system.    

Orange and yellow – sweet potatoes, oranges, carrots, yellow peppers, pineapple, pumpkin, tangerines, apricots, peaches, cantaloupe, winter squash, corn.  The yellow color is associated with reduced heart disease risk, promoting healthy eyes, healthy skin, strong bones and boosting your immune system.

Green – broccoli, cabbage, green beans, spinach, kale, peas, green pepper, zucchini, green apples, green grapes, kiwi, avocado, guacamole, kiwi.  These fruits and veggies help your eyesight, protect you from cancer and help lower cholesterol and boost your immune system. 

When someone recommends you eat 5 A Day – at least five fruits and vegetables a day, this is good advice as it is so beneficial to your health.  When choosing fruits and vegetables – vary the color and you vary those good phytochemicals.  Having trouble finding fresh berries like blueberries?  Then buy some frozen berries.  Frozen fruit and vegetables are just as healthy as fresh.  Dried fruit is also good.  Take some dried apricots, raisins, or other dried fruit with you on a car trip, when you go camping or hiking.  Dried fruit doesn’t spoil and makes for a great snack.

Sources:  Superpower Fruits to Add to your Diet , Superpower Vegetables to Add to Your Diet , protection , antioxidants , risk , colors , help , cancers , yellow color , fruits and veggies   Image Sources:  Alpine fresh blueberries , Strawberries , Berries

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