The old rule of thumb is to eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day and although this habit is far better than eating 5 servings of cake a day, you may still need to consider which fruits and vegetables you are eating and how many servings. Many experts are saying it is important choose several different source and to double the amount of servings from 5 to 10 to ensure a more effective stimulation of the metabolic pathways of genes in the different organs.
One method to help you choose your food is to categorize it by color. By breaking your food into color groups you can understand more easily what the value of what each food has to offer.
For instance Red, which includes tomatoes (cooked as well) pink grapefruit and watermelon contain carotenoid lycopene a scavenger gene which can help reduce the damage of free radical damage in the heart, lungs and prostate.
Red/Purple foods include red and blue grapes, blueberries, strawberries, beets, eggplant, red peppers and plums and are full of powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins which are believed to slow cellular aging. These antioxidants can also aid in reducing the formation of blood clots.
The Orange category includes carrots, mangoes, cantaloupe and sweet potatoes, these contain the cancer fighter alpha carotene along with beta-carotene that fights free radical damage in the skin, and it promotes the repair of damaged DNA.
Orange/Yellow includes oranges, peaches and nectarines. These provide beta cryptothanxin, which may help prevent heart disease.
Yellow /Green includes spinach, corn, green peas, avocado and honeydew melon, which are sources of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which are considered to reduce the risk of cataracts in eyes.
Green, includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and bok choy which all contain cancer-blocking chemicals such as sulforaphane, isocyanate and indoles.
White/Green includes garlic, onions, leeks, celery and asparagus. Foods in this group contain antioxidant flavonoids like kaempferol and quercetin.
Another tip to consider is leaving the skin on whenever possible. The skin on most fruits and vegetables is the richest source of nutrients.
Now, for some people, the thought of consuming ten servings of produce a day might be overwhelming, however, it may be easier than you think. A serving size is really not all that large. For example a medium size apple, banana or orange will equal one serving. A quarter of a cantaloupe, a cup of raw vegetables or a half a cup of cooked vegetables will also equal one. A six-ounce glass of fruit or vegetable juice equals one serving as well.
So, if for breakfast you have cereal with fruit and a glass of juice, then for lunch have a salad with your meal with a desert of fruit along with a glass of vegetable or fruit juice, you will already be at the half way mark.
Another obstacle is many think of vegetables as bland or boring, but truly, there are so many ways of preparing them that are tasty and nutritious. Its time to think out side of box and get away from the traditional serving of steamed veggies. Be adventurous and try some experiments to find your favorite dishes.
If you are interested in reading more about how nutrition by color can help you. Try reading these books. The Color Code by James A., Ph.D. Joseph, Daniel A. Nadeau, Anne Underwood or What Color Is your Diet? by Ph.D. M.D. Heber David.
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© Melt Magazine 2003