You know they’re good for you – fruits and vegetables. So to help you along your path to better health, Cotton Candy Magazine® is here to reveal one simple secret that’ll help you determine how to get all of the vitamins and minerals you need; just remember to eat the rainbow. When you’re looking to include essential vitamins, minerals and those mysterious substances called antioxidants into your meals, have a plate that’s chock-full of natural color. Cotton Candy contributor and Registered Dietitian, Brooke Paugh of NYC’s Nutrition Energy provides this colorful list of nutritious, delectable foods. Go ahead. Taste the rainbow.
Beets contain a number of unique, plant-derived antioxidants. Antioxidants are thought to possibly protect your cells against the effects of free radicals, which can damage cells and may play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Beets also provide a great source of folates, fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. Cut, cook and enjoy the beet greens as well; they are especially rich in vitamin A and flavinoid antioxidants.
Sweet potato packs a powerful punch of beta-carotene (a form of vitamin A), which gives the vegetable its orange color. Beta carotene helps protect cells from free radical damage and enhances the immune system. You’ll also get a healthy dose of vitamin C, iron and fiber from these seasonal favorites.
Yellow peppers have more than two times the amount of vitamin C found in an orange. They also contain more than 30 different carotenoids, both of which provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Yellow peppers can also be a good, low-calorie source of fiber, providing two grams per cup.
Kale is known for its powerful anti-inflammatory effect, but it’s also a cancer-fighting agent with its combination of antioxidants, flavinoids and glucosinolates. Kale also helps in lowering cholesterol.
Blueberries have a higher antioxidant composition than almost any other food. More recently, these super fruits have been associated with improved memory. Choose organic when eating blueberries, however, as recent studies have shown greater, total antioxidant content in organic versus conventional blueberries.
Grapes contain a broad spectrum of antioxidants from carotenoids and phenolic acids to flavanols and stilbenes. Perhaps most notably, is the grape’s resveratrol content which has been linked to longevity and cardiovascular health. Red grapes also have a relatively low glycemic index, meaning it may provide better blood sugar balance and insulin regulation. Grapes are associated with a very high level of pesticide residue, so these are best purchased organic.
Cauliflower is another antioxidant powerhouse, with its high levels of vitamin C and vitamin K (and some omega-3). In addition, the vegetable is packed with a wide array of phytonutrients, which supply added protection against cancer.
Almonds provide a great source of vitamin E, which acts as a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory agent and immune enhancer. In addition, almonds provide a great source of B vitamins, essential minerals, and calcium. However, it might be the combo of healthy monounsaturated fat, protein, and fiber that make it a satiating treat. Enjoy in moderation.
Written by: Brooke Paugh
Paugh is a Registered Dietitian at Nutrition Energy, a private nutrition practice in New York City. Paugh focuses on all aspects of medical nutrition therapy; nutrition for control or improvement of diabetes, kidney disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, GI issues and weight management. She works closely with clients to mold a plan that is tailored to fit each individual’s lifestyle and needs.