Super-Serve Your Fruit and Veggies: Go For Deep Pigment

Posted: April 18, 2009 in food, health, nutrition, Nutrition Tidbits, Weight Loss
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We all know about the federal government’s recommendation to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. As if anyone needed the reminder, since most any American childhood includes even more parental reminders to eat your vegetables than turn in your homework.

Well, a good many of us know that the government upped that number to nine servings per day a few years back. Five, nine, it all takes some planning to fit produce into your days. There are some convenient steps you can take to increase your intake without much trouble: Add diced baby carrots to your spaghetti sauce, which won’t affect taste. If you tend to skip breakfast, stop for two minutes total to blend milk, frozen fruit and ice (adding protein and flax meal makes it a power meal), drink it and wash the cup and blender.

Another idea is make a habit of slicing strawberries, kiwi or grapes into your salad; you can also use dried fruits such as raisins or cranberries. Don’t knock the fruit-in-salad idea until you try it.

Here’s the best shortcut for maximizing the nutritional power of your fruits and veggies, even if you slide somewhere between five and nine servings daily. Think deep pigment, as in blueberries, pomegranate, dark leafy greens, red grapes, beets, blackberries, kiwi and more.

Color and pigment in your fruits and veggies represent a greater concentration of substances that fight cancer and prevention artery-clogging cholesterol among other healthful duties. Deeper pigment indicates more flavonoids (purple, red and blue potatoes have a surprising amount), carotenoids (think yellow, orange, red and green) and anthocyanins (reds, most blues and purples). The more pigment, the better to protect against disease and aging.

Researchers are perhaps most excited about the potential to stay younger with pigment on your plate for meals and snacks. All of a sudden, strawberries or even the super-food blueberries in your salad don’t sound so bad, right?

“What strikes me about the substances associated with pigment in fruits and vegetables is its ability to change motor behavior for the better,” said James Joseph, chief of the neuroscience lab at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center at Tufts University in Boston. “There is virtually nothing else out there that can change motor behavior in aging.”

For instance, Joseph has conducted several studies about blueberries, showing the once mild-mannered fruit can protect against loss of balance, coordination and other motor skills more effectively than spinach. As a bonus, blueberries also stave off age-related memory loss. It is no accident that blueberry juice is a top-seller in Japan.

Get Strong! Stay Strong! (and eat your fruits and veggies!)



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