Did you know that diets rich in fruits and veggies have been linked to lower rates of coronary heart disease and cancer?(1)
When it comes to my plate, the more color the better, in my opinion.
It not only makes the meal more appealing, but those vibrant colors are also an indicator of some tremendous health benefits…
The substances that give fruits and veggies their color are called phytochemicals. So let’s take a look at what type of phytochemical is linked to what color:
- Green: Compounds that gives veggies their green color are called glucosinolates. Glucosinolates have an anticarcinogenic effect and protect against oxidative damage.(2) Cruciferous vegetables such as kale, mustard greens, and chard are good dietary sources of glucosinates.
- Orange: The carotenoid is the phytochemical responsible for the orange color in carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins and mangos – and is probably the most well known. (There are more than 600 types of carotenoids!) Carotenoids are thought to provide benefits in decreasing disease risk, specifically, eye disease.(3) They are also best absorbed when eaten with fat. So cooking carotenoids in oil such as olive or coconut oil increases their bioavailability.
- Red: The compound lycopene gives tomatoes and watermelon their red hue. Lycopene also has potent antioxidant properties and protect against oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals. Antioxidants like lycopene are vital in combating accelerated aging and degenerative diseases.
- Orange-Yellow: Oranges, papaya, and honeydew get their color from flavonoids. Flavonoids possess anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antioxidant properties and have been shown to protect cells and tissues from oxidative damage.(2)
Now that you have some added incentive to include more of fruits and veggies to your diet, let’s get to the recipe that will load you up with some…
Zucchini + Basil + Sweet Potatoes…Oh MY
- 1 large yellow onion
- 1 medium sweet potato
- 1 medium zucchini
- 1 small eggplant
- ½ tbsp. Oregano
- ½ tbsp. Fresh rosemary, chopped
- 2 tbsp. Fresh basil leaves
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 3 tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Optional additions: tomatoes, carrots, and radishes also taste delicious!
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees celsius).
- Slice all veggies and place them into a large bowl.
- Add oregano, rosemary, paprika, basil, olive oil and salt and pepper to your veggies and mix so that they are coated with your seasoning and olive oil.
- Arrange the veggies in your casserole dish or baking tray.
- Cover with lid or aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove the veggies from the oven and remove the foil. Then place veggies back in the oven for another 15-20, depending on their doneness.
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- Craig WJ. Phytochemicals: guardians of our health. J Am Diet Assoc 1997;97(suppl):S199–204. CrossRef. Medline
- Hounsome, N., Hounsome, B., Tomos, D., y Edwards-Jones, G. (2008.) Plant Metabolites and Nutritional Quality of Vegetables. Journal Food of Science. Vol.73, Nr. 4, p. 48-62.
- Johnson EJ1.The role of carotenoids in human health.Nutr Clin Care. 2002 Mar-Apr;5(2):56-65.