Time to bridge your phytonutrient gap

Living Colors

We may talk a good game about the red, white and blue, but when it comes to eating right, we Americans aren’t showing our true colors.

I’ve told you before about the phytochemicals that give fruits and vegetables their color. Those chemicals contain more than 25,000 phytonutrients. And they all do your body good.

But only when you actually eat them. And according to researchers, we aren’t. In fact, a national nutrition survey revealed troubling results about our eating habits.

  • Nearly 90 percent of us don’t eat enough foods that contain blue/purple phytonutrients
  • About 85 percent don’t eat enough white phytonutrient foods
  • Almost 80 percent don’t eat enough orange/yellow foods
  • More than 65 percent don’t eat enough green foods

So what valuable phytonutrients are we missing out on? Here are just a few:

  • Lycopene – the cancer-fighting compound that supports heart and prostate health that’s found in tomatoes and watermelon
  • Resveratrol – another cancer-fighter that also might curb the risk of age-related diseases is abundant in blue/purple foods like grapes and blueberries
  • Quercetin – an anti-inflammatory antioxidant found in white foods such as cauliflower and onion
  • Lutein & zeaxanthin – antioxidants that support good vision are found in green foods like spinach and kale

Fight the damage

Phytonutrients protect your body’s cells, putting the brakes on premature aging and disease.

Years ago, I told you about a University of Buffalo study that measured phytonutrient intake for more than 800 women, 124 of them with ovarian cancer.

Results showed that women cut risk of ovarian cancer in half with a high intake of plant fiber. This was especially true of carotenoid vegetables (yellow, orange, and red pigments), and lignan, a phytonutrient in flaxseed.

Red, white, blue, green, orange…whatever colors are in your flag,…eat more of them.

Sources:
“Diet and Color: Mind the ‘Phytonutrient Gap'” Mike Stones, NutraIngredients-USA, 10/16/09, nutraingredients-usa.com
“Risk of Human Ovarian Cancer Is Related to Dietary Intake of Selected Nutrients, Phytochemicals and Food Groups” Journal of Nutrition, 133:1937-1942, June 2003, nutrition.org