For many people, the idea of eating fruits and vegetables isn’t an exciting one. Too many years of raw carrots, overripe bananas, and limp lettuce has taken its toll on our perception of what produce can really be.
But by ignoring the possibilities of produce, you’re not just missing out on flavor—you could be missing out on health benefits, too.
“There is a reason why fruits and vegetables should play such a central role in our diets,” says Megan Laurent, RD, LDN, Assistant Director of Patient Services, Aramark at Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital. “Getting the recommended daily servings of each of these can affect your health in little ways—like improving your skin—and big ways, like reducing your cancer risk.”
Instead of resorting to the same recipes or choosing the same fruits and veggies during your trip to the grocery store this week, Laurent offers her picks for fresh green, red, orange, and yellow produce, and the health benefits of each.
Pick: Kiwi, edamame, peas, avocado, green grapes, honeydew melon, and broccoli rabe
Health benefits: And you thought carrots were good for your eyes! Thanks to Vitamins A and C and the nutrient lutein, green foods are especially beneficial for retinal health, as well as preventing loss of vision and macular degeneration.
Better vision not the only benefit to going green. Vitamins A and C can also mean stronger bones and teeth.
Pick: Cherries, strawberries, pomegranate, red peppers, beets, grapefruit, radishes, tomatoes, cranberries
Health benefits: You’ve likely heard that red wine is good for your heart because it contains an antioxidant, called resveratrol, which can boost your health. You can thank red grapes for those antioxidants—it’s just one of the many red fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants.
In addition to reducing heart disease risk, antioxidants in foods like those listed above can reduce the risk of certain cancers, like colon and prostate cancer.
Yellows and oranges
Pick: Bell peppers, mangoes, squash, peaches, pineapple, grapefruit, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe
Health benefits: Citrus is probably best-known for containing Vitamin C, which boosts the immune system and can protect your body from disease. But that’s not all that the vitamin is good for—it also promotes healthy skin and vision, and protects against heart disease and prenatal health problems.
Of course, this isn’t the end of the list for fruits and vegetables that you can sample for better health. When all else fails, just remember: aim for the rainbow!
“Eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, and trying new ones that you are unfamiliar with or new cooking techniques, ensures that you are being exposed to a variety of different nutrients that can benefit your health in many ways,” says Laurent.
Main Line Health offers nutrition experts that are registered, licensed dietitians. As members of the American Dietetic Association, they stay up to date on the latest nutrition research that may have an impact on your health and well-being, and can offer an individual nutrition plan to fit your lifestyle. Visit our website to learn more about Main Line Health’s nutrition services.