Here’s an easy way to really improve your health: add a rainbow of fruits and vegetables to your daily diet. Doing so will ensure you’re getting a mix of phytonutrients, flavonoids, and phytochemicals — super nutrients derived from plant materials that aid in disease prevention and so much more.
Here’s how to do it!
Strawberries are full of beneficial nutrients. They are packed with antioxidants which help protect your cells against free radical damage. The polyphenols in strawberries help to regulate blood sugar and are loaded with fibre. As well, they have a number of phytonutrients, which are nutrients derived from plant material necessary for sustaining human life. They contain protective, disease-preventing compounds that work to enhance the immune system and in strawberries, provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. These nutrients also have properties that lower cancer risk, and are high in vitamin C and manganese ,which has been shown to help with diabetes, PMS and epilepsy.
Add strawberries to your morning smoothie, oatmeal, in a salad or dipped in chocolate!
Carrots are rich in vitamin A and vitamin K as well as fibre. They contain a rich supply of beta-carotene along with several other phytonutrients and antioxidants. Carrots help protect against cardiovascular disease because of their antioxidant nutrient profile. Research has linked carotenoids to eye health.
Shred carrots into a salad, sandwich, stir-fry or even a muffin. Carrots also taste delicious juiced with apples and ginger.
Lemons contain flavonoid compounds which provide cancer protection. They provide phytonutrients with antioxidant and antibiotic effects and are a rich source of vitamin C, which helps to neutralize free radicals in the body. They are valuable to the immune system, help put the body in an alkaline state plus they stimulate and support digestion.
Try starting the day with a glass of water with a squeeze of lemon. Or use fresh lemon in a salad dressing, marinade or fresh juice.
Green: swiss chard
There are so many amazing green foods, but swiss chard is especially high in vitamin A, C, E and K as well as the mineral manganese. Swiss chard contains lots of phytonutrients like beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin that provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. It is high in fibre and protein, which helps to stabilize blood sugar and it’s high in flavonoids. More so, swiss chard has a high calcium concentration, which supports optimal bone health.
Add swiss chard into a green smoothie or juice, toss into a stir-fry or chopped into a salad. It even tastes delicious stirred into soups or stews.
Blueberries contain a spectrum of phytonutrient antioxidants — specifically anthocyanins, which give them their blue colour. These little powerhouses provide amazing cardiovascular benefits, and help to lower total cholesterol, increase HDL cholesterol and lower triglycerides. Research also shows that regular consumption of blueberries provides cognitive benefits, including improved memory. Blueberries are also beneficial for blood sugar regulation.
Blueberries make delicious smoothies, fruit salads or can easily be tossed into yogurt or cereal.
Indigo: Red onion
We often associate citrus fruit with vitamin C, but red onions are also a good source! Red onions also contain allicin, which provides cardiovascular support, and they have anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. They are a rich source of chromium — a trace mineral that helps to regulate glucose levels.
I love to add red onions to fresh salads and they also taste great when lightly sautéed and topped on pizza, pilafs or pasta.
Beets contain a rich source of the phytonutrients called betalains. They provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxification support. They are a great source of vitamin C, folate and manganese, and contain a high amount of dietary fibre. Beets also provide numerous cleansing benefits to the liver.
Marni Wasserman is a culinary nutritionist in Toronto whose philosophy is stemmed around whole foods. She is dedicated to providing balanced lifestyle choices through natural foods. Using passion and experience, she strives to educate individuals on how everyday eating can be simple and delicious.