Adding some brightly colored produce to your personal menu items will not only have an aesthetic impact on the food you prepare and eat, but doing so will also promote a healthier you. Foods that display in yellow, orange, red, and green are high in phytonutrients, according to Health.com, and those chemical compounds can ramp up a person's immune system.
Elizabeth J. Johnson, PhD, an associate professor at Tufts University, says of the compounds: "These phytonutrients include antioxidants like carotenoids and anthocyanins that give produce its color and may play a role in preventing age-related diseases like cancer and heart disease."
Green fruits and vegetables (snow peas, asparagus, greens, tomatillos, avocados) are high in lutein and zeaxanthin. These are carotenoids that protect against eye diseases. Bright green produce might also lower one's risk of skin cancer and heart disease. At the same time, leafy greens, which contain folate, are an energy booster.
Yellow and orange-colored foods (carrots, apricots, squash, sweet potatoes, lemons) are loaded with carotenoids like beta-carotene, a hydrocarbon that is a precursor of vitamin A, an antioxidant. Beta-carotene helps boost your immune system.
Red fruits and vegetables (tomatoes, red onions, beets, radicchio) contain lycopene and anthocyanins. These are compounds that could lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.
And as noted, the brilliant coloration adds a certain panache to delight the eye as well as the palate.
There's definitely something to the idea of bright-colored produce being healthy, especially in regard to the immune system. A recent study on zinc deficiency noted that the mineral was necessary in regulating a properly responding immune system. The study also suggested that increasing the amount of zinc intake into the body while ill shortens the duration and lessens the severity of colds. Most zinc-rich foods are brightly colored, such as leafy green vegetables (kale, mustard greens), chili peppers, oranges, strawberries, and kiwi fruits (the fruit itself, of course).
So toss a salad full of various greens, carrots, tomatoes, red onions, and some diced avocado. Saute (using olive oil) some red, orange, and yellow bell peppers with some yellow squash. Have some red potatoes (with skins) cooked with fresh dill. Go ahead and add a little color to your next meal and bolster your immune system at the same time. Call it preventive cuisine and enjoy.
(photo credit: 5aday.gov, Wikimedia Commons)