Fruits and vegetables are the foundation of a healthy diet. They are low in calories and jam-packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre. They fall into five different colour categories, red, orange/yellow, purple/blue, green and white/brown and each contain their own unique disease-busting chemicals called phytonutrients.
There is no one food that gives us everything we need, so to get the full spectrum of healthy nutrients we need to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables every day and with every meal. The brighter and more deeply coloured fruits and vegetables contain higher concentrations of these phytonutrients, and as each different colour provides different benefits, by eating a variety throughout the day, we will pretty much have all our needs covered.
This time it’s BROWN/WHITE fruits and veggies, and by that I mean mushrooms, onions, garlic, cauliflower, parsnips, turnips, bananas and potatoes. Colour isn’t the only indicator of phytonutrient content, and just because they don’t have the vibrant colourful pigments that other fruits and vegetables have, it doesn’t mean they don’t have any nutritional value. These fruits and veggies are chock-full of flavonoids, the powerful antioxidants that mop up free-radicals, counteracting the damage that can lead to cellular changes and disease.
Allicin, a sulphur compound found in garlic, has strong antiviral and antibacterial properties. Crushing or chopping garlic releases an enzyme called alliinase which then goes on to produce allicin, but as Alliinase is easily inactivated by heat I recommend crushing or chopping your garlic and let it sit for 10 minutes, to let the enzyme do its magic, before adding it to your cooking.
Anti-inflammatory Quercetin regulates the immune system by stabilising the release of histamine, making it nature’s own anti-histamine. So if you suffer from seasonal allergies, skin reactions or asthma it would be worth making sure you’re getting enough of this phytonutrient. Not only does it lower inflammation and fight allergies, but it’s also great for heart health especially atherosclerosis, high cholesterol and circulation problems. You can find good amounts of it in onions and apples, as well as green tea, other veggies and legumes.
Potatoes and bananas are a great source potassium, an essential nutrient for maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance in the body. Potassium is critical for nerve transmission and muscle function, and a deficiency can lead to fatigue, irritability, muscle cramps, muscle fatigue and weakness and insomnia. A low potassium intake can lead to increased blood pressure and a high potassium intake can prevent and correct high blood pressure and reduce the risk of a stroke.
Different mushrooms such as shiitake, oyster, reishi and cordyceps all have their own unique benefits. They each have their own immune boosting superpowers and can kill viruses, bacteria and yeasts such as candida. They can even destroy cancer cells, and are used in Japan as a cancer treatment alongside surgery, chemo and radiation therapies. They contain beta-glucans (also found in oats) which are powerful immune-modulators, or in other words, make your immune system more efficient. Mushrooms can also provide a good source of vitamin D.
So keep on adding a variety of different veggies into every meal, they really are the perfect answer to great health.