Health benefits of ‘rainbow in vegetables and fruits’
“RAINBOW in vegetables and fruits” is a name I coined for the variety of vegetables and fruits that nature has provided for us. The rainbow as we all know, is made up of the following colours: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. All around us are vegetables and fruits in nature with these colours.
Scientists have determined that the deeper the colour, the richer they are in phytonutrients. Phytonutrients, otherwise known as phytochemicals (phyto is plant in the Greek language), are chemicals found in plants that protect them from fungi, viruses, bacteria and other harmful micro-organisms. These are also of immense benefit to man (I shall begin a series on phytonutrients from next week Thursday). Also present in these colourful plants are vitamins. These vitamins such as Vitamins A, C and E are antioxidants, which I am sure you are aware of. They are found in several plants and eating them often and raw, is certain to guarantee you good health and long life.
To refresh your memory, antioxidants such as the vitamins listed above, enzymes (superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase and catalase) and the trace minerals make up the antioxidant defence system. They neutralize the dangerous free radicals, products of the biochemical reactions going on in the body. These free radicals through what is known as oxidative stress, attack and destroy cell membranes, the cell nucleus and DNA inside it among other organelles therein. By so doing, free radicals, if left unchecked give rise to such fatal medical conditions as atherosclerosis, heart disease, arthritis, cancer etc. To prevent and even reverse these conditions it is important that we add the ‘rainbow’ to our diet; add raw colour to your diet.
Here now are the common sources of the three vitamins that are included in the antioxidant defence system:
Vitamin A. The phytonutrients, alpha carotene, beta carotene and beta cryptoxanthin are all converted in the body to Vitamin A. Vitamin A is a powerful immune system booster and it is essential for the health of the eyes.
Sources of Vitamin A include, asparagus, apricots, beets, broccoli, carrots, corn, collard green, green pepper, kale, mango, pink grapefruit, pumpkin, peaches, spinach, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and watermelon.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, has numerous health benefits in the body. Some of these benefits are, helping to treat common colds and asthma, enhancing the immune system, lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke, treatment of arthritis, treatment of cancer etc.
Sources of Vitamin C are, citrus fruits such as oranges, tangerine, lime lemon etc. Others are papaya, sweet potatoes, strawberries and other berries, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, mango, red, yellow and green peppers, kale, kiwi and so on.
Vitamin E plays a role in the proper functioning of several organs in the body. It is a fat-soluble vitamin which is predominantly present in the lipid bi-layer of the cell membrane. As an antioxidant, it prevents oxidative stress in the cell membrane and maintains the integrity of the cell. In preventing free radical damage of the cell, Vitamin E prevents premature aging. Other benefits of Vitamin E include prevention of heart attack, chest pain, hypertension, treatment of diabetes and its complications.
Other uses are in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, PMS and increase in blood pressure in pregnancy, known as pre-eclampsia. Vitamin E is also used in the prevention and treatment of cataract, macular degeneration and asthma. It is also an important adjunct in the treatment of such cancers as that of the mouth, lungs, colon, rectum, prostate and the pancreas. Vitamin E is an essential component in the maintenance of the health of the prostate gland and in the prevention and management of infertility.
Common sources of Vitamin E are whole grains, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, red pepper, papaya, broccoli, carrots, mangoes, mustard green and Turnip green.
These fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts that I have listed above as sources of the three most important vitamin antioxidants are present locally in this clime.
Even as hard as it is to convince people that the cooked food that we eat is part of what is causing diseases in the human being, a lot of difference can be made if we added these raw colourful foods to our diet.
The fruits, nuts and seeds can be taken as snacks all day long while the vegetables can be added to the diet as salad. I tell you the truth, these will simply increase the antioxidant defence system that should be higher than the free radicals in order to optimally tilt the balance to the side of the antioxidant and keep diseases and premature aging at bay.
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