Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘eating the rainbow’

a bowl of fruit salad

Summer is a magnificent season, when outdoor activities abound, and cookouts happen seemingly every weekend. Think of the general spread at a cookout. What comes to mind? Common cookout options include hotdogs, hamburgers, watermelon, chips, dip, and sweets. Unfortunately, many people do not take advantage of the summertime produce available, when it is at its freshest and typically best price. During the summer season, fruits such as watermelon, strawberries, blackberries, cherries, peaches, lemons, and limes are all in peak harvest, as are vegetables such as corn, zucchini, bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers, radishes, and arugula. Summer is the best time to experience all this delicious produce, which is either not widely available, or is more expensive during the other three seasons. One great way to enjoy summer produce is combining colorful fruit into a salad, such as this one from Food Hero. If you want to experiment with seasonal vegetables instead of fruit, Food Hero also offers a template you can use to make a colorful stir-fry.

There are many reasons to consume fruits and vegetables – both in the summer and year-round. Fruits and vegetables are not only flavorful and colorful; they are packed with nutrients vital to our health such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are naturally occurring chemicals in plants which contribute a variety of characteristics to that plant, such as taste, color, and smell. Registered dietitians often recommend eating a “rainbow” of fruits and vegetables because different colored fruits and vegetables contain different phytonutrients. Phytonutrients such as anthocyanins, flavonoids, phenols, carotenoids, and lutein are believed to play a role in health promotion and disease prevention, and research is underway to further examine their potential benefits. Researchers believe one of the main benefits from most phytonutrients is antioxidant activity, which helps rid the body of oxidizing agents that could cause harm. Specifically, flavonoids and Quercetin, found in food such as apples, onions, coffee, and citrus, are thought to help reduce chronic inflammation, and the anthocyanins found in berries and red wine are believed to help reduce blood pressure.

Aside from the potential health benefits associated with phytonutrients, eating a “rainbow” of fruits and vegetables has the added benefit of increasing the variety in ones’ diet, and it has been said that variety is the spice of life! This summer, I encourage you to take the seasonal opportunity to indulge in the large variety of fresh fruits and vegetables that summer is known for because even without additional health benefits, your taste buds will thank you!

Written by Laurence Brandon III, Dietetics Student, Middle Tennessee State University

Reviewed by Jenny Lobb, MPH, RDN, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

Sources:

Harvard Health (2019). Fill up on phytochemicals. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/fill-up-on-phytochemicals

McManus, K. (2019). Phytonutrients: Paint your plate with the color of the rainbow. Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/phytonutrients-paint-your-plate-with-the-colors-of-the-rainbow-2019042516501

Read Full Post »