We are very complex creatures and our brain capacity beyond other animals so that we need higher levels of many micronutrients and antioxidants compared to other species. More than 50 different micronutrients needed for human optimum health! The sources of them are fruits and vegetables. Below are benefits of eating rainbow fruits and vegetables explanation. Feature picture: Pexels.
What Is A Nutrient?
A nutrient is a component in foods that an organism uses to survive and grow. Macronutrients provide the bulk energy an organism’s metabolic system needs to function and it is needed in a lot of amounts. Macronutrients can be found in carbohydrate, protein, and fat.
Micronutrients are various types chemicals that are found in trace amount in the foods we eat, it provides the necessary cofactors for metabolism to be carried out. The other name is vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
What Is The Roles Of Micronutrients In Our Body?
- breaking down carbohydrates, proteins, and fats into energy
- protecting the brain
- synthesizing DNA
- helping keep a strong metabolism
- helping with hormone production
- allowing cells to rejuvenate
- slowing oxidation damage or signs of aging caused by free radicals
- allowing muscles to move and helping with tissue repair
- producing digestive enzymes
- aiding in bone mineralization
Micronutrients are essential because they protect our bodies from disease, slow the aging process and help every system in our bodies function properly.
Watch a video about vitamins and minerals below:
The best sources of micronutrients, including antioxidants (also called phytonutrients), vitamins and trace minerals are natural foods or unprocessed foods: vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, ancient grains, legumes and quality animal products.
The digestive process works very quickly and our body uses different enzymes to digest the fruit. When fruits are eaten alone, our stomach can more easily process all of the nutrients, fiber and the simple sugars contained in the fruit and our body can completely absorb the simple sugar.
If we eat fruit close to a meal, it’s held in the stomach too long along with other foods and will rot and ferment in the gut. If we experience digestive discomforts, it could be the combination of the food, the fermentation with fruit that causes our upset stomach. If left uncontrolled it could lead to other health problems that stem from the digestive tract.
Qualitative testings and quantitative testings have done in chemical analytical laboratories to know the types of nutrients and how much the specific nutrients in various foods. Usually, the testings are complicated and need high skill and knowledge to operate chemical analytic instruments who is only can be done by the experts. Fortunately, we can get their smart work resume and use it as our health guidance.
For practical application in our daily life, we can use information in the text below to make a plan of our diet/menu for specific purposes depend on our necessities.
What Are Benefits Of Eating Rainbow Fruits And Vegetables?
We get benefits of eating rainbow fruits and vegetables based on micronutrients contained in it.
Micronutrients In Red Foods
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Watermelon is the best source of lycopene, a substance that plays a role in maintaining healthy cells and can protect the body from cancer and keep our heart healthy. Antioxidants like lycopene neutralize free radicals that cause age-related diseases. Lycopene’s antioxidant capabilities can protect our body from the damage induced by pesticides.
The red color in foods also contain anthocyanins that are used to prevent infection. Anthocyanins are water soluble pigments that, depending on their pH, may appear red, purple or blue. Foods that have red colors include red guava, red wine, red pepper, tomato, watermelon, cherry, red beans, red apples and brown rice.
Strawberry, raspberry, pomegranate, cranberry are red foods rich in ellagic acid, a phenolic compound that has been shown to exert strong anticancer and antioxidant activity.
Raspberry, cranberry, tomatoes, raw red onion, peppers are top quercetin sourced foods. Quercetin is a type of flavonoid antioxidant plays an important part in fighting free radical damage, the effects of aging and inflammation. Quercetin and other flavonoids are the antiviral, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic agent ( credit to Department of Pathology and Diagnostic at the University of Verona in Italy ). Quercetin can help us exercise and even live longer.
While the vegetables, such as red cabbage and red amaranth contain flavonoid, substances that protect the body from cancer. Even the red cabbage contains vitamin C two times more than white cabbage. Eat more red foods to reduce the risk of stroke, reduce inflammation, and promote heart health.
Micronutrients In Yellow / Orange Foods
Yellow and orange fruits and vegetables have beta-carotene and alpha-carotene. Both of these substances are converted by the body into an active form of vitamin A that is used to maintain eyes and skin health. Beta-carotene help keeps our immune system.
Fruits and vegetables that yellow or orange are: sweet potatoes, oranges, carrots, pumpkin, peach, mango, apricot, cantaloupe, pimenta cambuci, and papaya. Pimenta cambuci is a Myrtaceae fruit contain ellagic acid in higher level compare to camu-camu, red guava, and white guava.
Yellow and orange are also identical to the content of vitamin C and potassium, which is responsible for keeping blood pressure. Yellow foods promote anti-inflammation also provide electrolytes and anti-inflammatory compounds to reduce post-exercise sore muscles.
Micronutrients In Green Foods
The color of green foods in vegetables or fruit contains lutein and zeaxanthin. Both substances are found in the eye and help prevent eye damage in old age. Both are very important eye nutrients that may reduce our risk for macular degeneration and cataracts. Leek, rich in vitamin A, also very good to avoid cataracts. The United Nations has agreed that 60+ years may be usually denoted as old age.
Dark green vegetables, such as broccoli contain indoles and isothiocyanates that help prevent cancer by increasing the production of an enzyme that works to eliminate toxins in the body. The darker the green color of vegetables means it contains more chlorophyll and antioxidants.
Broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts also contain vitamin K to support :
- Heart health
- Improve bone density
- Restore oral health
- Fight cancer
- Reduce infections
Top green vegetable source of sulforaphane, a compound that has been found to have several health benefits, including powerful anti-cancer properties are :
- Broccoli sprouts, the immature seedlings of the broccoli plant, usually eaten raw, contain more sulforaphane than any other vegetables, including full-grown broccoli. Research has found that they contain anywhere from 10 to 100 times more of the compound than broccoli. Cooking vegetables containing sulforaphane reduces the amount of sulforaphane. Boiling is the worst way to cook vegetables if we want to preserve nutrients.
Eat it raw or lightly steamed for maximum benefit.
- Savoy cabbage contains high levels of sulforaphane. The less we cook it the better.
- Kohlrabi, another type of cabbage, it tastes great raw, is also a great source.
Try adding raw kale to green smoothies, lightly saute it, or steam it.
- Collard Greens
Add raw collards to a green smoothie along with a banana and some kale or use a raw collard leaf as a delicious sandwich or burrito wrap.
Other green foods are lettuce, spinach, pok choy, mustard greens, green beans, bitter melon, avocado, green apple, melon, and kiwi.
Eat green foods to up-regulate detox enzymes in the liver, slow macular degeneration, improve eye health, reduce the risk for colon, bladder and breast cancer.
Micronutrients In Blue / Purple Foods
Blue / Purple fruits or vegetables contain anthocyanins and proanthocyanin. In addition to optimizing brain function, both substances is also an antioxidant that is able to maintain a healthy heart. Blue / purple vegetables and fruit also contains anthocyanin which helps reduce the risk of high blood pressure and cholesterol. Fruits and vegetables that have the purple color are blackberries, blueberries, eggplant, sweet purple, plum, cranberry, grape, and raspberry. The grapes contain magnesium, the fourth most abundant mineral in the body, which needs to move feces out of the body.
The more blue/purple color of fruits and vegetables, indicating the higher amount of antioxidants. Eat blue/purple foods to promote anti-inflammation in the heart and blood vessel, support the immune system, maintains muscles, improve skin health and help prevent wrinkles.
Micronutrients In White Foods
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White vegetables such as bananas, soursop, longan, and lychee contain fiber and vitamin C is high.
While on white vegetables such as mushrooms, cauliflower, white radish, bean sprouts and cabbage contain vitamin E and C as well as anti-cancer compounds.
Horseradish contains sulforaphane which the functions mentioned in Green Foods. Add a bit of horseradish to our recipes and we’ll get a health boost.
Eat white foods to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancers, support healthy bones, reduce osteoporosis risk, support immune system, reduce free radical damage, lower blood cholesterol levels, antifungal, and antibacterial benefits.
Below is the video about antioxidants and phytochemicals (part 2):
So that we can conclude that our daily foods should be as many colors as we can or rainbow color in order we can get the optimal benefits for our health.
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