Most of us have heard that fruits and vegetables have been shown to lower cholesterol and blood pressure (when it is high), reduce the risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration leading to vision loss, balance blood sugar levels, balance weight, improve bowel regularity and colon health, and guard against cancer. Not only does their incredible array of macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals play a role in their healing powers, so do nutrients known as phyto≠nutrients and enzymes.† (Iíll discuss enzymes more next week.) You were introduced to some valuable phytonutrients last week, but letís delve a bit deeper today. †Once you know more about their health marvels, Iím sure youíll agree that these are foods youíll definitely want in your diet.
Most naturally purple or reddish colored fruits and vegetables contain anthocyanins.† Research shows that these phytonutrients burn stored fat in the body, lessen the likelihood of gaining more pounds, and boost memory.† A group of laboratory animals fed a high-fat diet along with anthocyanins gained 24 percent less weight than their counterparts fed only the fatty diet, according to research published in The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Anthocyanins are found in dark purple or red grapes, cherries, and berries, including blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries.
Yellow, orange, and red foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, apricots, mangoes, pumpkin, tomatoes, papaya, and peaches as well as dark green veg≠etables like broccoli and leafy greens contain high amounts of carotenoids. Not only do these nutrients help strengthen our eyesight and boost our immunity to disease, they are powerful antioxidants that help prevent cancer and protect against the effects of aging. Studies at Harvard University of more than 124,000 people showed a 32 percent reduction in risk of lung cancer in people who consumed a variety of carotenoid-rich foods as part of their regular diet. Another study of women who had completed treatment for early stage breast cancer conducted by researchers at Womenís Healthy Eating and Living (WHEL) found that women with the highest blood concentrations of carotenoids had the least likelihood of cancer recurrence.
If youíve heard about the health benefits of drinking green or black tea, youíre already familiar with catechins, one of the main phytonutrients in these beverages.† Catechins activate fat-burning genes in abdominal fat cells to assist with weight loss and belly fat loss in particular. According to research at Tufts University, catechins increase abdominal fat loss by 77 percent and double total weight loss. Apples are another source of catechins.
Found in berries, cherries, currants, pomegranates, red and purple grapes, red onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, apple (skin), and walnuts, another class of phytonutrients called flavonoids interfere with stages of the development of cancer cells, thereby preventing their ability to keep multiplying. A particular type of flavonoid called resveratrol has been getting a tremendous amount of media exposure lately, due to its powerful ability to protect the brain from damage. Dr. Egemen Savaskan and colleagues at the University of Basel in Switzerland discovered that resveratrol protected brain cells from plaque formation linked to the disease by mopping up free radicals. Grapes are currently the best known source of this potent healing substance. While red wine is a good source of resveratrol, its alcohol content can be damaging to brain cells and the liver.
Starting today, try to eat yellow-orange, red, green, and bluish purple fruits and vegetables every day. Itís easier than you think. Simply top your morning cereal with blueberries, add tomatoes to your salad greens at lunch. Snack on carrot sticks and grab a handful of grapes to satisfy your sweet tooth. That way, you can feel confident that youíve ingested hundreds of phytonutrients that will not only impart their disease-prevention powers, but also increase your sense of well-being.
†Ready to up your phytonutrient intake?†Post†your health intent and find community support and content to help you achieve it!
Michelle Schoffro Cook, DNM, DAc, CNC, is a six-time and best-selling book author whose works include: The Life Force Diet, The Ultimate pH Solution, and The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan. She is a doctor of natural medicine, holistic nutritionist, and holistic life coach. Visit www.TheLifeForceDiet.com to learn more.
Intent.com provides content and community for who you aspire to be–personally, socially and globally.