Eating Red Fruits and Vegetables May Help Prevent Cancer
Deep red or bright pink fruits and vegetables should be eaten every day, recommends the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Nutrition research shows that red and bright pink fruits and vegetables contain phytochemicals, such as lycopene and anthocyanins. Phytochemicals, substances found only in plants, help your body fight disease and promote good health.
Lycopene (pronounced LIKE-oh-peen) helps reduce the risk of several types of cancer, including prostate cancer. Watermelons, pink grapefruits, and tomato-based products such as spaghetti sauce, tomato paste, and tomato juice are all good sources of lycopene. One out of every six men in America will be affected by prostate cancer, says Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, Director of NCIs 5 A Day for Better Health Program. Men who want to reduce their risk of prostate cancer should eat foods rich in lycopene as part of their recommended 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
Other red fruits and vegetables, such as strawberries, raspberries, and beets contain anthocyanins (pronounced an-tho-SIGH-uh-nins), a group of phytochemicals that are powerful antioxidants that help control high blood pressure and protect against diabetes-related circulatory
Best Sources of Lycopene Best Red Sources of Anthocyanins
There are thousands of health promoting phytochemicals found in plants and that’s why it’s so important to eat a wide variety of colorful orange, red, green, white, and blue fruits and vegetables every day, says Dr. DiSogra. By eating fruits and vegetables from each color group, you will benefit from the unique array of phytochemicals, as well as essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that each color group has to offer.
Remember, the more colors the better whether choosing colorful fruits and vegetables at the supermarket or when eating out, adds Dr. DiSogra. Keep in mind, women should strive to eat at least 7 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and men should strive for 9.
Enjoy 1 cup of raspberries, sweet cherries, cranberries, or strawberries, or go to the 5 A Day Web site at www.5aday.gov for recipes such as the Creamy Tomato-Pepper Pasta which also features some favorite red powerhouses.
Eating the Blues Can Keep You Healthy and Feeling Young
Eat blue and purple fruits and vegetables, recommends the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Fruits such as blueberries and plums, contain disease-fighting phytochemicals, including anthocyanins and phenolics. Phytochemicals, substances found only in plants, help your body fight disease and promote good health.
Anthocyanins (pronounced an-tho-SIGH-uh-nins) and phenolics (pronounced fee-NAH-lix) are found in berries, dried plums (prunes), and raisins. These powerful antioxidants help reduce the risk of diseases including cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s, and may even slow down the aging process.
Research suggests that eating blueberries, in particular, may prevent some of the effects of aging by improving cell communication in the nervous system. Some degree of memory loss which occurs slowly with aging starts around age 50. Eating berries like blueberries and blackberries may help to reverse this trend.
Best Blue/Purple Sources of Anthocyanins Best Blue/Purple Sources of Phenolics
Dried Plums (Prunes)
Rack up the Greens For Better Health
Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, Romaine lettuce, collard greens, kale and broccoli should be eaten every day. Nutrition research suggests that the more green veggies you eat, the healthier you will be. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) recommends making green vegetables an important part of your recommended 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
But what makes green vegetables so healthy. One reason is that they are packed with nutrients and phytochemicals substances found only in plants which help fight disease and improve health. Lutein (pronounced LOO-teen) is a powerful antioxidant found in green leafy vegetables that help to maintain good vision. Cataracts, which occur naturally during the aging process, cause some degree of vision loss in almost everyone over the age of 65. Eating green vegetables rich in Lutein helps reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. That’s one of the reasons that it’s critical to eat green vegetables every day.
Indoles (pronounced in-DOLS) are another group of phytochemicals found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. Indoles help protect against breast cancer (which affects one out of every eight women in the U.S.) and prostate cancer (which affects one out of every six men in the U.S.). In a recent study, men who ate cruciferous vegetables at least three times a week had a 42 percent reduction in risk of prostate cancer.
Best Green Sources of Lutein Best Sources of Indoles
Romaine Lettuce Broccoli
Leafy Greens (Turnip, Collard, Mustard)
Swiss Chard Watercress
Boost Your Immunity with Orange Fruits and Vegetables
Eat deep orange and bright yellow fruits and vegetables, recommends the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, and pumpkins all contain the phytochemical beta carotene. Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, and tangerines contain another group of phytochemicals called bioflavonoids. Phytochemicals, substances found only in plants, help your body fight disease and promote good health.
Beta carotene is a powerful antioxidant that reduces the risk of cancer and heart disease. In addition, it helps maintain good eyesight and helps your body fight colds and flu by boosting your immune system.
Bioflavonoids, a group of phytochemicals that work together with Vitamin C to keep bodies healthy, help reduce the risk of cancer, strengthen bones and teeth, help heal wounds, keep skin healthy, and lower the risk of heart attack.
Best Sources of Beta Carotene Best Orange/Yellow Sources of Bioflavonoids
Sweet Potatoes Apricots
There are thousands of health promoting phytochemicals found in plants and that’s why it’s so important to eat a wide variety of colorful orange, red, green, white, and blue fruits and vegetables every day. By eating fruits and vegetables from each color group, you will benefit from the unique array of phytochemicals, as well as essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that each color group has to offer.
Flavor Up for Better Health with Extra Servings of Garlic and Onions
Garlic, onions, and leeks may be lacking in color, but they’re bursting with powerful phytochemicals substances found only in plants which help your body fight disease and promote good health. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) recommends flavoring salads, sandwiches, and main dishes with garlic, onions, and/or leeks as part of your recommended 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
Vegetables from the onion family, which include garlic, chives, scallions, leeks, and any variety of onions, share a group of phytochemicals that are very important to good health. The most common member of this phytochemical group is allicin. Research shows that allicin-containing garlic and onions may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure and increase the body’s ability to fight infections.
People don’t often think that garlic in recipes or onions on a sandwich add to their daily servings of fruits and vegetables. But every little bit adds up. In fact, the phytochemicals found in the onion family may be some of the strongest in their ability to protect good health. Nutrition research shows that eating vegetables from the onion family may speed recovery from colds, reduce the risk of heart attacks, and may even help stop the spread of certain cancers, particularly stomach and colon cancer.
Top sources of Allicin
Allicin, a phytochemical found most notably in onions and garlic, is considered to be protective against cancer and heart disease. Allicin is most widely recognized for its action as an antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial agent with the ability to block the toxins produced by bacteria and viruses. It is also an antioxidant and helps to eliminate toxins, which is why garlic is sometimes considered a detoxifier.
Anthocyanins represent a group of phytochemicals within the larger category of phytochemicals called phenolics.Anthocyanins give intense color to certain red and/or blue fruits and vegetables, most notably the blueberry. These plant pigments are very powerful antioxidants and have been studied extensively for their ability to fight heart disease and cancer and to delay several diseases associated with the aging process.
Antioxidants are found naturally in many fruits and vegetables and act to protect cells from damage caused by the by-products (free radicals) of everyday metabolism and toxic substances in the environment and food. Over time, free radicals can significantly damage cells and lead to a number of diseases associated with aging. Antioxidants act as little vacuum cleaners, eliminating free radicals as they circulate throughout the body, preventing them from doing damage.
Beta Carotene is a common phytochemical within a group of over 600 called carotenoids. It is found in bright orange-colored fruits and vegetables such as carrots, pumpkins, peaches, and sweet potatoes. In the body, beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A, which has many vital functions including the growth and repair of body tissues, formation of bones and teeth, resistance of the body to infection, and development of healthy eye tissues. Whereas vitamin A supplements can be toxic, excess beta-carotene is safely stored away and converted to vitamin A only when the body needs it.
Bioflavonoids represent a group of phytochemicals found primarily in citrus fruits. They belong to a large group of more than 2,000 phytochemicals called phenols that are known to be very powerful antioxidants. Bioflavonoids are studied for their ability to delay or prevent some of the effects of the aging process. Bioflavonoids, in particular, have been associated with a decrease in symptoms of arthritis, decreased risk for heart disease and cancer, and lower cholesterol levels.
A cataract refers to cloudiness in the lens of the eye, which can causes vision loss and sometimes blindness. Structural proteins in the eye breakdown with aging, causing cataracts. Fifty percent of the population between the ages of 52 and 64 have cataracts and 70 percent of those over 70. Symptoms of cataracts include blurry or fuzzy vision, changes in color vision, and increased glare from lights among others.
Diabetes-related Circulatory Problems
Diabetes speeds up the processes that lead to heart disease such as hardening of arteries and build-up of fatty plaques, making diabetic patients much more susceptible to heart attacks and impaired circulation. Diabetes also damages capillaries, resulting in inadequate blood flow to many tissues. However, a large body of evidence shows that these effects may be prevented or reversed if diabetes is controlled through good nutrition and exercise.
Indoles are a group of phytochemicals that fall within a much larger group called organosulfur compounds. Organosulfur compounds are found in cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, and turnips. These phytochemicals all contain sulfur, which gives vegetables that contain them a pungent flavor. Each phytochemical within the organosulfur group delivers specific health benefits. Indoles, in particular, are able to bind to cancer-causing chemicals and activate detox enzymes that destroy them and prevent damage to cells.
Lutein is a phytochemical found most often in leafy green vegetables, but also in other fruits and vegetables. Lutein belongs to a group of over 600 phytochemicals called carotenoids, which are plant pigments that function as antioxidants. Lutein is a component of the macula of the eye, responsible for detailed vision. Evidence suggests that eating foods high in lutein may prevent and slow macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in the elderly. As an antioxidant, lutein reduces the amount of free radical damage to the macula and may also help prevent the formation of cataracts, reduce the risk of heart disease, and protect against breast cancer.
Lycopene is one of over 600 phytochemicals called carotenoids with very powerful disease-fighting capabilities, particularly against prostate cancer. Lycopene is associated with the red color in tomatoes. Tomato-based products such as tomato sauce, tomato soup, and tomato juice have the most concentrated source of lycopene. Cooked tomato sauces are associated with greater health benefits, compared to uncooked, because the heating process makes lycopene more easily absorbed by the body. Also, lycopene is fat-soluble, meaning that in order for the body to absorb it, it has to be eaten with at least a small amount of fat. Lycopene has been associated with a reduced risk for many cancers and protection against heart attacks, though research continues on other potential health benefits.
Age-related macular degeneration is the number one cause of severe vision loss or legal blindness in adults over 60 in the U.S. More than one in 10 adults aged 65 to 74, and 28 percent of those 75 years or older have the disease. Age-related macular degeneration reduces straight ahead central vision necessary for normal functioning. Risk for macular degeneration increases with age and smoking and dietary factors may also play a role. Certain green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale and brightly colored fruits and vegetables like mangoes, oranges and cantaloupes contain phytochemicals called carotenoids that may reduce the risk for macular degeneration.
Phenolics represent a very large category of over 2,000 phytochemicals. The term phenol comes from the chemical structure of these phytochemicals that vary from having one to several phenol groups. Phenol groups have the ability to sweep up many free radicals as they circulate through the bloodstream. For this reason, phenolics are considered to be some of the most powerful antioxidants and are studied for their ability to slow down the aging process. However, phenolics also exhibit a wide range of other health benefits, which include anti-inflammatory, anti-allergy, anti-clotting, anti-tumor and heart protective effects.
Phytochemicals are defined as substances found only in plants that provide health benefits in addition to those provided by vitamins and minerals alone. Phytochemicals, which represent thousands of different components in plant foods, differ from vitamins and minerals as they are not considered essential nutrients. But, eating an abundance of phytochemicals from various fruits and vegetables has been associated with the prevention and/or treatment of at least four of the leading causes of death in the U.S. cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. The specific phytochemical content of different fruits and vegetables tends to vary by color and each has unique functions. Some phytochemicals act as antioxidants, some protect and regenerate essential nutrients, and others work to de-activate cancer-causing substances.