Consuming a variety of colorful fruit and vegetables provides the body with a powerhouse of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that may help protect against chronic diseases.
Foods like tomatoes, red/pink grapefruit and watermelon contain a red pigment called lycopene. Lycopene is considered to be a strong antioxidant and is believed to help reduce the risk of prostate cancer and heart disease. Another compound found in red foods is anthocyanin. This compound is a powerful antioxidant that may help reduce the risk of heart disease.
YELLOW and ORANGE
Foods that are yellow and orange in color are typically good sources of beta-carotene.
Beta-carotene turns into active vitamin A which is an antioxidant found to help decrease our risk of developing heart disease. Vitamin A is also important for keeping eyes, skin and hair healthy. Citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits are a good source of vitamins C and B, which help to improve immune function.
Green foods get their color from chlorophyll and are good sources of vitamin C, folate and phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are non-nutritive plant chemicals that have protective or disease preventive properties. Some green foods are believed to help decrease blood pressure, support strong bones, lower the risk of cancer, and improve cholesterol levels.
Only an estimated 30 percent of Americans actually consume adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables. The goal is to eat two cups of fruit and two and a half cups of vegetables each day.
Just by making a few small changes to increase fruits and vegetables into your meals, you can boost your defenses against chronic diseases.
Add some blueberries or strawberries to your breakfast cereal. Choose a colorful salad as a side dish instead of fried potatoes or chips at lunch or dinner. Layer sandwiches with tomatoes and greens. Make salads fun! Start with deep green and/or red lettuces and use your imagination to add colorful items such as grapes, berries, and orange slices. When fresh fruits and vegetables are not available, frozen is a great economical option.
There are U-pick farms, farm stands, the Palm Springs Certified Farmer’s Market (certifiedfarmersmarket.ning.com) and festivals open throughout Southern California with opportunities to purchase everything from berries, cherries, peaches, apricots and watermelon to lettuce, tomatoes, beets, green beans, squash and corn, to name just a few. What better way for children to learn how foods grow than to visit a working farm to pick their own fruits and vegetables?
Check the following Internet sites for just a few of the many U-pick locations as close as Beaumont/Cherry Valley, Oak Glen and Julian, where you will find temperatures 10 to 20 degrees cooler than in the Coachella Valley. As fruits and vegetables come into season gradually over the summer months, call ahead to learn what’s available, and remember to choose organic fruit whenever possible.
U-Pick/Day Trippen, Southern California: daytrippen.com/u-pick-farms.html
Julian Mining Company: julianminingcompany.com/raspberry.htm
Following is a delicious and healthy shake to cool you down this summer!
Sensational Soy Shake
Serving size: one quick meal replacement or quick snack for two.
2 1/2 oz. soft or silken tofu (1/6 of a 1 lb. block)
3/4 cup soy milk
1 large carrot or 6 to 8 baby carrots
3/4 cup orange juice
3/4 cup fresh or frozen fruit (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries)
1-2 tablespoons wheat bran*
1-2 tablespoons wheat germ*
1-2 tablespoons ground or whole flax seed*
*Per serving: Use 1 tablespoon each of flax seed, wheat germ, wheat bran.
Mix together above ingredients in a blender for 1 to 2 minutes; then drink and enjoy!
Calories: 450 kcal
Fiber: 14 gm
Protein: 25 gm
Carbohydrates: 65 mg
Fat: 10 gm
Calcium: 465 mg