When eating a well-balanced diet, fruits and vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals, fibers and other phytonutrients, but are some better than others? Knowing which ones to select while shopping can help you get the most nutritional benefits.
Jo Robinson, author of Eating on the Wild Side wrote an article for Bon Appétit magazine in August 2013 called, “Shop the Crop.” In it she explains how not all produce is created equal. By knowing which vegetables to buy, you can greatly increase your nutrient intake, particularly cancer-fighting lycopene.
When fruits and vegetables are not properly handled and have to travel great distances, they can lose some of their nutritional value. If you are lucky to have a farmer’s market close to you, take the advantage of the health benefits and support your local farmer.
Here are some of the precautions you should take while buying fruits and vegetables from your farmer’s market so you can get the biggest nutritional bang for your buck.
Don’t discard the leafy top to make more space in your shopping bag. In fact, the leafy part is the most nutritious! Also, look for very dark red beet, as they contain more cancer-fighting compounds called “betalains.”
Smaller and darker tomatoes have relatively more lycopene. Grape or cherry tomatoes, ounce for ounce have 18 times more lycopene than beefsteak tomatoes.
Pick the full-size carrots with freshest looking top attached. Unlike other vegetables, carrots are healthier when cooked. Your body will absorb three times more beta-carotene from cooked carrots than raw. Also, avoid peeling carrots since much of their nutrition comes from the outer layer.
Cherries with brighter green and flexible stems are fresher. Cherries are healthiest for the body since they contain anti-inflammatory “anthocyanins.”
One serving of Kale delivers more calcium than six ounces of milk and more fiber than you can get from four slices of whole wheat bread. It also contains more vitamin C, phytonutrients, and antioxidants when consumed raw.
This might be hard to believe but, the more white a peach’s flesh, the more antioxidant content it has. Peaches can be eaten in a variety of interesting ways. You can serve them as a sweet summer dessert with a dollop of whipped cream or simply toss it with yogurt and granola for a light breakfast.
The red, brown and purple head of lettuce are the most nutritious parts since they contain anthocyanins. While buying lettuce, pick the one with loose arrangements of leaves instead of ones with a tight head.
The reddish fleshy portion of watermelon is packed with lycopene. These days pre-packaged halves are available in the stores so you can pick the one with the darkest red color!
As a rule of thumb, the most colorfully rich foods are the most nutritious and are packed with the most antioxidants! Eat a rainbow of foods in your daily diet.
Reader – Which fruits and vegetables are your favorite, and why?