Flowers are not the only signs of spring — count in fruits and vegetables for colorful eating.
The American Dietetic Assoc. say colorful foods — such as blueberries, strawberries, avocados and carrots — not only have fiber and nutrients, but they may promote cardiovascular health.
“I like to say to my clients, ‘Eat the rainbow,’ ” said Suzanne Forsberg, a dietitian with the St. John Weight Management Institute. “These are what we call power foods. The colors in fruits, vegetables, beans and, don’t forget, spices each have different properties, which help fight diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes.”
Forsberg said the American Heart Association recommends eating fruits and vegetables rather than taking supplements.
“That makes sense because there are so many other properties in fruits and vegetables, like fiber, that can also help with cardiovascular disease and diabetes.”
Fruits and vegetables also contain vitamins, such as B6 and folate, that help lower homocysteine levels in the blood, she said.
“Elevated homocysteine levels may increase your risk for arteriosclerosis and have been linked with cardiovascular disease.”
Red Tomatoes contain lycopene along with many other nutrients and phytochemicals. “It is the combination of goodies in a tomato that make it an A+ for health. People used to fear tomatoes and thought they were poisonous. Never refrigerate a tomato, it will ruin the taste.”
Red kidney beans not only contain fiber but have a high ORAC, or oxygen radical absorption capacity. “ORAC is measured by the NIH (National Institute of Health), which measures the antioxidant power of foods, or the ability to remove free radicals from the system. They damage our vessels and can lead to cancers, cardiovascular diseases and other problems.”
All colors of berries are low on the glycemic scale and high in antioxidants and fiber. “Fiber helps to control blood sugar, and also removes cholesterol from the body, and has been called nature’s broom.”
Apples contain soluble and insoluble fiber.
Orange “Oranges are citrus fruits, which prevent scurvy, once a problem on long sea voyages and has resurfaced recently. They also contain vitamin C, and we all know the link between immunity and vitamin C and wound healing.”
Orange carrots and yellow squash contain lutein found in the orange and yellow pigment. “Lutein is necessary for good vision, but also may help prevent or slow down atherosclerosis, the thickening of arteries, which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.”
Green “Spinach contains neoxanthin and kaempferol, which are ‘Kryptonite’ to cancer cells.”
Avocado is rich in potassium, fiber and B vitamins. “One cup of pureed avocado contains approximately 1,378 milligrams of potassium, along with monounsaturated fat which is known to lower LDL, the bad cholesterol,” she said. “The problem is, the avocado is highly caloric. One small avocado is around 350 calories.”