It’s once again that time of year when planning dinner or any meal is a pleasure as local farmer’s markets shelves are heaped with freshly-picked fruits and vegetables. I await this time with anticipation since I like to keep things simple and it’s the easiest time to do that- especially if your diet is leaning towards an emphasis on vegetables, which more and more people are doing these days.
We started learning about the different vitamins in fruits and vegetables many years ago, but in the early eighties researchers started positively identifying other health-giving properties such as phytonutrients and their link towards helping to maintain good health and prevent disease. For my cookbook, Spices of Life, I interviewed Dr. David Heber, who was then on the cutting edge of this research. Dr. Heber was one of the first nutritionists who focused on “eating the rainbow” an eating plan which incorporates the seven different color groups of fruits and vegetables that can protect our genes, vision, and heart, reduce inflammation in the body, and help prevent common forms of cancer.
Heber contended that the majority of the most common diseases are caused by the imbalance between our modern diet and our genes. By eating a variety of the specified fruits and vegetables, we can strengthen our immune systems, reduce the risk of common disease, increase our longevity, and lose weight. At the same time other researchers were also confirming this link and these days, most doctors and nutritionists agree.
Listed below is a simple chart that gives a detailed breakdown of each color group associated with the varieties of fruits and vegetables with their specific health- giving benefits. If you’d like to learn more about this fascinating topic as well as many different ways to select and prepare these foods so that you can maximize your intake of these health-giving phytonutrients, a must-read is Jo Robinson’s Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health and you can visit her website wwweatwild.com.