Using a Vegetable Nutrients Chart to Pick your Produce
It’s a pretty well-known fact that fruits and vegetables are good for you. There are countless studies and research papers that prove a higher intake of fruits and vegetables decreases your risk for many types of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and much, much more! A great way to become more healthy is to use a vegetable nutrients chart.
So, what is it that makes fruits and vegetables such nutrition powerhouses? For one, fruits and vegetables are typically low in calories but high in fiber. This means when you eat one as a snack or part of a meal, you’re consuming a food that keeps you full while also providing: vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients!
Beyond vitamins, minerals and fiber, natural compounds found in plants called phytonutrients may exert profound disease-preventive effects. Phytonutrients work by stimulating enzymes that help your body detoxify, reducing genetic damage, and decreasing inflammation.
Other important compounds found in fruits and vegetables are antioxidants, which help prevent damage to cells. Fruits and Vegetables get their different colors from the combination of phytonutrients, antioxidants and vitamins that determine their pigmentation.
Studies have shown is there is no one specific fruit/vegetable or phytonutrient that is protective, but rather the combined effect of a variety of phytonutrients working together provides a collective benefit. This means to get the most benefit from your fruits and vegetables, it’s important to eat a variety of colors of produce.
Try to “eat the rainbow” and get at least 2-3 different colored fruits or vegetables at each meal or snack. In addition, aim for an overall goal of 5-8 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. One serving is equal to: one-half cup of cooked, cut, or sliced produce; one medium sized piece of produce; or one cup of leafy greens.
Below is a table covering the nutritional benefits of a variety of produce. Remember, eat the rainbow and consume a variety of colors to attain the most benefits!
Vegetable Nutrients Chart
|Green||Fiber, lutein, magnesium, calcium, folate, vitamin C, indoles, potassium, vitamin K||Kale, spinach, leafy greens, lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, peas, kiwis||Maintain good vision, reduce risk of cancers|
|Yellow/Orange||Beta-carotene, flavonoids, potassium, vitamin C, zeaxanthin, bioflavonoids||Carrots, pumpkin, mangos, apricots, peaches, oranges, grapefruits, lemons||Reduce risk of heart disease and cancer, maintain good vision, skin, healthy teeth/bones, support immune system|
|Red||Lycopene, ellagic acid, queroetin, anthocyanins||Tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries, red apples, cabbage, watermelon||Help with healthy blood pressure, reduce risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s|
|Blue/Purple||Anthocyanins, phenolics, antioxidants||Blueberries, blackberries, grapes, eggplant, raisins, plums||Antioxidants to help prevent disease risk, slow effects of aging, help brain health|
|White||Beta-glucans, allicin, potassium, vitamin A||Onion, garlic, leeks, scallion, chives||Help decrease blood pressure and lower cholesterol; lower risk for heart attacks and cancer|