Colorful food on your plate can boost your health. Vibrantly colored fruits and vegetables contain high levels of phytonutrients – which lend plants a rich hue and protect health by reducing susceptibility to disease.
For optimal nutrition, combine them in one meal. “The more colors you eat at once, the more powerful the phytonutrients are, because of the synergy that happens,” says Steven Pratt, MD, a California-based nutrition expert and author of Superhealth: 10 Simple Steps, 6 Easy Weeks, 1 Longer, Healthier Life (Dutton Adult, 2008).
“The lutein in avocados boosts the body’s absorption of carotenoids in spinach by as much as 20 percent,” he says.
So splurge on colorful food at the produce department.
LIGHT-GREEN/WHITE: Sulphoraphane protects the retina from oxidative damage and fights carcinogens. EAT: Broccoli sprouts, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, turnips
WHITE: Allyl sulfide boosts immunity, lowers cholesterol and controls blood pressure. EAT: Garlic, leeks, onions, shallots
ORANGE/YELLOW: Beta-carotene reduces the risk of heart disease and some cancers and slows progression of diabetes-related vision loss. EAT: Apricots, cantaloupe, carrots, mangoes, sweet potatoes
RED: Lycopene reduces the risk of prostate, stomach and lung cancer and heart disease. EAT: Sour cherries, pink grapefruit, sweet red peppers, tomatoes, watermelon
BLUE/PURPLE: Anthocyanin promotes circulatory function and cuts the risk of stroke by inhibiting clot formation. EAT: Plums, blackberries, blueberries, red cabbage, eggplant, purple grapes
DARK GREEN: Lutein lowers the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. EAT: Avocados, broccoli, collard greens, cucumbers, spinach, zucchini
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