Why we should "Eat the Rainbow"
They say that your health is your wealth but often we take this for granted when we are feeling fine - it's only when we have a health hiccup or crisis that we really start to look at our priorities. At Green Earth Organics, we believe that eating nutritious organic fruit and veg is the best way you can invest in your health - you are filling your body with the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and nutrients that you need to thrive. As we are creatures of habit, it's easy to get stuck into a routine of eating the same types of fruits and veg over and over again. But as we need to eat a broad range of nutrients over the course of the year, it's really important that we expand our palette and "eat the rainbow". This week, our inhouse nutritionist Monique Hegner talks about this topic. Over to you Monique.......
"When it comes to healthy eating, a lot of the advice is often centred on what not to eat instead of what you should be eating and what constitutes a “healthy” meal for your family? Well, instead of focusing on what should be avoided, I would like to take a different approach and look at foods that support your health and are full of colour, flavour and taste absolutely delicious! Don’t forget, we eat with our eyes first!
We all know that fruits & vegetables have many benefits and are crucial for our health. Ever wonder why? What makes them so special? They not only have nutrients such as vitamins and minerals, they are also full of natural substances, produced by the plants, called phytonutrients. “Phyto” refers to the Greek word for plant and there are thousands of these phytonutrients. They protect the plants from threats such as fungi or bugs and give them their characteristic colour, taste and smell.
Research finds more and more evidence that phytonutrients have disease fighting qualities and including them in your diet has many benefits such as strengthening your immune system, preventing cancer, heart disease and diabetes, promoting repair and slowing the aging process by protecting us from aggressive substances called free radicals.
So, where do you find these healthy compounds? The best way to increase your intake of phytonutrients is to eat a wide variety of plant-based, colourful foods.
Phytonutrients of different colours offer different health benefits:
• Purple and blue colour, found for example in aubergine, blueberries, blackberries and plums comes from anthocyanins. These plant pigments belong to a group called flavonoids, and act as powerful antioxidants, neutralising aggressive substances that damage our cells and cause aging. Purple and blue foods can protect us from degenerative diseases, support the arteries, heart health, the brain, cognitive health and healthy aging.
• Red fruit and vegetables such as apples, beets, radishes, red peppers, tomatoes and red berries get their colour from lycopene and anthocyanins. They support urinary tract and prostate health and protect against cancer and heart disease.
• Orange and yellow foods are rich in carotenoids. The body can convert some carotenoids into vitamin A, which keeps your immune system working properly. They also support eye health and your skin, protecting it from the inside out. Carrots, sweet potatoes and pumpkins are great sources for these phytonutrients.
• Green foods are coloured by the natural plant pigment called chlorophyll. Chlorophyll can bind toxins, supports liver function and detoxification. Some greens such as spinach, green peppers, peas, cucumber and celery, contain lutein which plays an important role in keeping your eyes healthy. Another group, called indoles found in broccoli, cauliﬂower, cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables may help protect against some types of cancer.
• White fruits and vegetables such as onions, leek, garlic, ginger, parsnips and cauliflower also have great dietary benefits. Some contain allicin, a phytonutrient which can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, acts as an anti-inflammatory and helps reduce the risk of stomach cancer and heart disease.
So, eating your rainbow of phytonutrients every day is beneficial for your health. Good quality, organic fruits & vegetables are available in our online shop at www.greenearthorganics.ie - colourful and delicious.
Enjoy! Monique Hegner, Nutritional Therapist
Thanks for your support,
P.S. Don't forget to tune into UTV Ireland's show "Rare Breed" every Monday at 8pm to learn more about our farm in Galway! http://utv.ie/rarebreed Also, we have loads of jobs available on our website so if you know anyone that would like to work for us please feel free to let them know! More info on our blog. Many thanks.