Eat plants of various colors to get more phytonutrients, says Amway nutritionist
To get more nutrition, people must eat a “rainbow of colors” of fruits and vegetables and other plant food.
People aren’t putting enough “color” on their plant-based food, said Alli Klosner, a nutrition investigator on Nutrilite Health Institute’s supplement product development team, thus missing out not only on vitamins and nutrients but also on phytonutrients.
Phytonutrients are organic components from plants that help promote good eye, joint and heart health, as well as support immune and brain functions. Many of these are also powerful antioxidants. Aside from fruits and vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and teas are rich sources of phytonutrients.
Even though fruits and vegetables are important, people still aren’t getting enough, Klosner said. Echoing the 2014 Nutrilite Global Phytonutrient Report, Klosner said roughly 75 to 85 percent of people globally are not meeting the World Health Organization’s recommendation of at least five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day, creating a “very large dietary gap for phytonutrients.”
In Asia, the report said, adults have relatively low intakes of ellagic acid, which it attributed to limited availability of berries.
Thus to get more out of the plants we eat, Klosner said people must consume five different kinds, which she divided based on their color pigment. The Nutrilite Global Phytonutrient Report listed the five as: green, red, white, purple/blue, and yellow/orange.
- “Greens” are composed of plants that contain lutein/zeaxanthin and glucosinolates, which are good for the vision and cellular health. Examples of “greens” are spinach, lettuce, kale, broccoli, bok-choy, cabbage and mustard greens.
- “Reds” are those that contain lycopene and ellagic acid, which are good for the lungs, heart, stomach, prostrate and the cells. Examples of “reds” are tomatoes, watermelon, red grapefruit, raspberries and strawberries.
- “Whites” are those that have quercetin, which is good for the blood vessels, the heart, and bone and joints health. Examples of “whites” are onions, apples and radicchio.
- “Purples,” or “blues,” are those that have anthocyanidins, which are for heart, cell, skin, digestive and brain health. The “purples” include grapes, blueberries and eggplants.
- “Yellows,” or “oranges,” are those containing alpha- and beta-carotene, hesperidin and beta-cryptoxanthin, which are best for vision and heart health, healthy immune function, the bones and the joints. Examples of yellows are carrots, plantains, pumpkins, carrots, Chinese cabbages, plantains, cantaloupe, oranges, lemons and limes.
Following the “rainbow of colors,” people can and will get more out of the plants they eat, Klosner said. “There are many different phytonutrients that you can get from fruits and vegetables and plant food in general, so it is important to eat a wide variety of color, every day.”
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