Freshly picked vegetables and fruit (especially those locally grown) are bursting with phytonutrients that give these summer favorites their rich hues of purple, red, orange and yellow—yes, the rainbow! The likes of carotenoids and anthocyanins give summer produce its rich colors while giving you a host of health benefits such as protection for age-and diet-related diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Check out a few of our summertime favorites!
Freshly picked vegetables and fruit (especially those locally grown) are bursting with phytonutrients that give these summer favorites their rich hues of purple, red, orange and yellow—yes, the rainbow! The likes of carotenoids and anthocyanins give summer produce its rich colors while giving you a host of health benefits such as protection for age-and diet-related diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Check out a few of our summertime favorites:
Papaya: This tropical wonder comes loaded with vitamin C—a staggering 225% of needs in a medium-sized papaya. As an antioxidant, vitamin C helps protect eye and skin health along with supporting a strong immune system. Combine this with a good dose of beta-carotene, another antioxidant, and you have a super fruit!! One medium papaya also supplies a fifth of your fiber needs—mostly soluble type that helps lower blood cholesterol—and more than 25% of folate needs, a B vitamin that also support heart health.
Peppers: With their show-stopping colors, peppers supply a wealth of nutrients including vitamin C vital for immune health and skin protection from UV damage. One green, red or yellow pepper has more than 100% of the Daily Value for vitamin C in only 25 calories. Peppers’ list of star nutrients goes on—their color comes from carotenoids known as potent cancer fighters when eaten from vegetables like red peppers or hot jalapeños. Potassium, a mineral important for health blood pressure, also abounds in most peppers.
Plums: Deep red and purple-colored plums contain phenols that studies show protect against oxidative damage that may lead to degenerative disease including Alzheimer’s and cancer. The phenols neochlorogenic and chlorogenic in plums have been shown to protect cells from damage caused by everyday metabolism. Plums also supply soluble fiber, the fiber type that helps lower circulating cholesterol and protects heart health. This fiber also helps stabilize blood sugar and aids in curbing appetite.
Tomatoes: Technically a fruit (and botanically a berry), tomatoes supply a wealth of unique phytonutrients with tongue-twisting names like esculeoside, tomatidine and chalconaringenin. Researchers now understand the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory power of these phytonutrients which helps explain how tomatoes protect against an array of chronic ailments such as heart disease and cancer. Different tomato varieties, such as heirlooms, have even more unique phytonutrients. Combine this with tomatoes’ rich vitamin C content (about 40% in one cup) and the notable carotenoid, lycopene, and this “veggie” has major antioxidant clout.
Watermelon: Everyone’s summertime favorite at picnics and backyard gatherings, watermelon supplies a wide array of vital nutrients, including vitamin C, potassium and fiber. The pink-red color of watermelon comes from lycopene, an antioxidant that may help lower risk of various cancers, including colon and lung cancer. New research shows that watermelon also contains a compound called citrulline that improves heart health by optimizing blood flow.
Ready to eat more of the rainbow? Check out Eat Your Rainbow: Part 1!