While perusing the stands at your farmers market this spring and summer, you’ll find yourself surrounded by a colorful rainbow of fruits, vegetables and berries, each beaming from its individual carton or tray and each packed with its own health benefits.
Eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins, nutrients, fiber and protein will fuel the body and protect you from chronic diseases.
Combined with daily exercise and other lifestyle improvements, an improved diet will keep your blood pressure low, keep unwanted weight off, and keep you healthy so you can go hiking in The Gorge or hit the water at Sauvie Island this summer.
Fortunately, Portland has an abundance of local farmers markets tightly packed with vendors selling colorful fruits and vegetables, making it easy to access fresh produce.
The healing properties of food
Food can be used as medicine, either to ease the pain from existing health conditions or to prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. That’s one of the biggest reasons why dieticians at Adventist Medical Center recommend eating a minimum of five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables each day.
The easiest way to make sure you’re digesting all the healthy benefits of food is to look at it like a rainbow.
- Tomatoes are a year-round fruit rich in lycopene and other antioxidants that support bone health. Lycopene is also proven to help prevent various cancers. Vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium and fiber also aid in combatting heart disease and reducing inflammation.
- Blood oranges and other citrus fruits are high in vitamin C, which repairs damaged tissues in your body. They’re also a good source of anthocyanins, a compound that can help prevent cancer, diabetes and bacterial infections.
- Red peppers and other bell peppers keep your eyes, teeth and gums healthy. That’s because they’re packed with vitamin A and lycopene, a carotene (color pigment).
Orange and Yellow
- Carrots are high in beta-carotene, which makes them orange, a compound that provides vitamin A. They also contain vitamin K that helps your heart’s cells communicate with each other and controls your blood’s clotting. It’s also beneficial for bone health.
- Peaches help lower LDL cholesterol, the bad type of cholesterol that builds up in the arteries and can lead to cardiovascular disease.
- Bananas are loaded with fiber, antioxidants and potassium. They can help improve digestive health and prevent colon cancer, as well as control blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Bananas are also proven to decrease the risk for kidney disease.
- Spinach and kale are good sources of vitamin A, vitamin C and minerals that protect the body from inflammation and help fight heart disease and diabetes. Kale is also helps fight cancer. It’s recommended that people have three to four servings per day of leafy greens.
- Broccoli is rich in sulforaphane, a compound known for its antioxidant properties and detoxifying enzymes. Eating broccoli can help you regulate blood pressure, prevent cancer, reduce inflammation and keep your eyes and hair healthy.
- Blueberries and raspberries are rich in fiber and polyphenols that help lower blood pressure, prevent plaque build-up in the arteries, and reduce your risk for heart attack and other cardiac diseases. They also help improve memory function and promote healthy aging.
- Eggplant is rich in fiber, vitamin K and bioflavonoids. Eggplant has been proven effective at protecting against colon cancer, managing diabetes, controlling high blood pressure and strengthening capillaries.
Visit your local farmers market to fill your basket will colorful fruits and vegetables
Author: LivingWell PDX Blog
Adventist Health is committed to creating a healthier Portland community.