Tap into Nature's Pharmacy
What do you find at the end of a rainbow? Not one that appears in the sky after a summer rain, but one that is created with a plate full of colorful fruits and vegetables. The answer, an arsenal of protection for your body and the tools to age gracefully! Fruits and vegetables contain phytonutrients. “Phyto” means “plant” in Greek. Plants produce these substances naturally to protect themselves against viruses, bacteria, and fungi. In turn, they can protect us from the same types of insults. These chemicals give produce those beautiful colors, aromas & add flavor.
According to Stanford Health, phytonutrients act as antioxidants or nutrient protectors, potentially offering protection against carcinogens (cancer causing agents) and decreasing the incidence of many chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and dementia. Unlike nutrients, omitting phytochemicals in your diet will not lead to a technical vitamin deficiency but you will lose out on a multitude of health benefits.
When you increase fruits and vegetables in your diet, it is important to remember that cooking and preserving them can reduce not only their nutrient and fiber content but also their phytochemical levels. When possible, consume raw, steamed or lightly sautéed fruits and vegetables. These cooking methods minimize phytochemical loss.
Make your goal to consume nine or more servings of fruits and/or vegetables each day; more vegetables than fruit. In general, one serving equals 1cup raw or ½ cup cooked. Have fun experimenting adding fruits or vegetables to your family's favorite recipes. Also, type in “plant based” in your recipe searches. You will find a bunch of yummy dishes to try! When you go out to eat, ask to substitute those fries with a side salad or double up on the vegetable of the day.
So, go chase that rainbow.......And enjoy optimal health and wellness!