Top 10 Nutritional Produce Picks
Does the nutritional content of the summer produce you eat pack enough of a healthy punch?
"You need to
eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables," said Luke Howard,
University of Arkansas food science professor. "There are literally
hundreds of compounds in fruits and vegetables that may be
attributes this quality to the different antioxidents found in the
pigments of fruits and vegetables. Antioxidents help prevent the
oxidative damage caused by free radicals in the body. Not all free
radicals are bad. However, when more free radicals are present than the
body's defense mechanism can take care of, an imbalance occurs and the
free radicals have the potential to damage lipid membranes, proteins
The rule of thumb: the more vibrant the color of the fruit or vegetable, the higher its antioxident level.
Howard recommends the following fruits and vegetables as powerhouse produce picks for the summer:
The Berry Bunch
The top three antioxident fruits are blueberries, blackberries and strawberries.
The thing they have in common is the bright red, blue and purple colors
that make up the class of pigments called "anthocyanins," which may
help reduce the risk of cancer. These berries also contain ellagic
acid, which also helps in cancer prevention. In addition, blackberries
and strawberries provide an additional source of vitamin C.
Broccoli Is Better
is one of the more nutritious produce items. It is from the class of
cruciferous vegetables, which also includes radishes and kale. Broccoli
contains several cancer protective compounds and is a source of
beta-carotene, the precursor to vitamin A, and vitamin C. The
cruciferous vegetables help lower cholesterol and maintain healthy
Carrots are a good source of beta-carotene and alpha-carotene, which can help prevent cellular damage.
Re-Defining "Bad" Breath
breath has good qualities after all! The smell that lingers in your
mouth after eating onion and garlic is caused by sulfur compounds,
which help lower cholesterol and maintain healthy immune systems. Onion
also contains the pigment quercetin, a compound that protects against
heart disease. Yellow and red onions are more nutritious than white
onions because they contain more quercetin.
Some Like It Hot
contain a class of compounds called capsaicinoids. Capsaicinoids give
peppers their spicy flavors. As with color, the more intense the
flavor, the better the pepper is nutritionally. Additionally, peppers
are one of the best sources of vitamin C.
Though not a particularly good summer vegetable, spinach
makes the list because it packs a lot of health-protective punch. The
compound lutein contributes to the maintenance of healthy vision and
protects against eye disorders like macular degeneration, which affects
individuals age 65 years and older. Additionally, spinach is a good
source of folic acid, which helps prevent such birth defects as spina
Replace lettuce with spinach on hamburgers and sandwiches for a healthier alternative, Howard suggests.
are a source of vitamin C and also contain the compound lycopene, which
gives them their red color. Lycopene is an antioxidant that may protect
against prostate cancer. The redder the tomato is, the more lycopene is
is as connected to summer as waterslides. This cool summer fruit is
highly nutritious as well. Like tomatoes, watermelon contains lycopene.
Ripe, red flesh is the best indication of the sweetest and most