"Eat your vegetables and you get dessert". This phrase is commonly used, and it's not until I recently started educating myself about nutrition that I realized how backwards it is. Sure, dessert is great every once in awhile, but it shouldn't be the reason to eat your veggies. Likewise, eating fruit shouldn't be done out of obligation.
After researching the benefits of rainbow carrots for an Instagram post I recently did, I found a great article that explains the benefits of different types of fruits and vegetables in a simplistic way (I'll post the link at the end of this blog post).
Personally, I've always known that fruits and vegetables are "good" for me, but I never fully understood why on a macro and micronutrient related level. On top of that, I had no idea how powerful a role food plays in terms of how we feel on a day to day basis, how we age, our health and wellness, disease prevention, and mental health.
Here are some key points from the article I recently read, which will give you an idea of how important it is to consume a wide array of fruits and veggies:
1. Red fruits and vegetables (i.e. red apples, cherries, cranberries, red cabbage, radishes, beets) contain "lycopene" or "anthocyanins", which can help prevent cancer and provide powerful antioxidants, which protect cells from damage and keep our hearts healthy.
2. Orange/yellow fruits and vegetables (i.e. apricots, peaches, pears, yellow peppers, yellow watermelon, sweet potatoes) usually contain "carotenoids", which are converted into vitamin A (helps maintain healthy mucous membranes and healthy eyes), and can also help with cancer prevention, improve immune function, and be beneficial to your heart. Note: citrus fruits such as lemons and oranges are not a good source of vitamin A, but are an excellent source of vitamin C and folate (a B vitamin which can help prevent birth defects).
3. Green fruits and vegetables (i.e. green apples, asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kiwi, honeydew, spinach, green onions, green grapes, cucumbers...I could go on forever. I absolutely adore green fruits and veggies) contain "chlorophyll" and "lutein", and play an important role in reducing risk of cataracts, and may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. Leafy greens (i.e. spinach, broccoli) are wonderful sources of folate.
4. Blue/purple fruits and vegetables (i.e. blueberries, eggplant, figs, purple grapes, plums) contain "anthocyanins", which can act as powerful antioxidants that protect against cell damage. They may also help decrease the risk of cancer, stroke, and heart disease, and promote memory function and healthy aging.
5. White fruits and vegetables (i.e. bananas, cauliflower, mushrooms, onions, turnips) are coloured by "anthoxanthins", and may contain chemicals that promote health (i.e. may lower blood pressure and cholesterol, may help decrease risk of stomach cancer and heart disease). Some members of this group (i.e. potatoes, bananas) are also good sources of potassium.
Based on the above information, it's easy for me to make the effort to incorporate a literal rainbow of fruits and vegetables into my daily diet! There are so many benefits, and I feel so much better when I'm eating for my health. As I continue to educate myself about food and nutrition, I plan to share as much information via this blog and my social media accounts. Thanks for reading! Click here to read the article I mentioned at the beginning of this post :)