Originally published October 31 2009
Stop the Phytonutrient Deficiency in America
by Ethan Huff
(NaturalNews) Most people should be well aware that a diet rich in assorted fruits and vegetables is vital to maintaining health and preventing disease. Available in a rich variety of colors and flavors that benefit health in different but unique ways, fruits and vegetables are vitamin, mineral, and phytonutrient storehouses. According to a recent America's Phytonutrient Report 80 percent of Americans do not eat an adequate amount and variety of fruits and vegetables, resulting in a "phytonutrient gap" that is causing serious, widespread health problems.
When it comes to fruits and vegetables, there are generally five color categories that are recognized. These include red, blue and purple, yellow and orange, white, and green. Each color category is said to play a different role in health. White, for instance, tends to inhibits cancer and high cholesterol levels while bolstering heart health. The yellow and orange category contributes to healthy eyes as do greens, which also stem cancer growth.
All fruits and vegetables contain various levels and types of phytonutrients that are designed to fend off diseases like cancer and to prevent premature aging. Experts recommend ingesting a diverse selection of fruits and vegetables from all color categories in order to obtain the maximum benefits from each, which work synergistically to fortify the body.
According to the report, Americans are phytonutrient deficit in every color category. The worst deficiency is in the blue and purple category where 88 percent of Americans are deficient. In the white category, 86 percent are deficient while 79 percent are deficient in the orange and yellow category, 78 percent are deficient in reds, and 69 percent are deficient in greens.
In lieu of recommended guidelines for phytonutrient intake, the report identified "prudent intake" levels for 14 different phytonutrients and compared those with average American intake levels in order to determine the gap. These included EGCG, isothiocyanate, lutein and zeaxanthin, isoflavones for greens, lycopene and ellagic acid for reds, allicin and quercetin for whites, anthocyanidins and resveratrol for purples and blues, and alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, hesperitin, and beta-cryptoxanthin for yellows and oranges.
Amy Hendel, a registered physician assistant and health and wellness expert who is working to educate people about phytonutrients, recommends trying to eat at least two fruits or vegetables from each color category every day.
As always, clean, organic produce is the best option as it will be free from pesticides and higher in vitamin and mineral content. Home-grown fruits and vegetables are another choice as they typically have the best flavor, can be grown organically to personal standards, and offer the rewarding experience of harvesting the fruits of one's own labor.
An excellent way to maintain high intake of varied fruits and vegetables is to juice them. A high-quality juicer will not only extract the valuable nutrients, including some of the fiber, but will allow for combining different varieties in a single, great-tasting juice. Carrots, for instance, can be juiced along with beets, celery, apples, and ginger to create a delicious, healthy beverage.
High-quality food blenders offer similar options with smoothies, soups, and purees that can be fortified with vegetables not normally present in recipes. For soups and purees, these powerful food machines will gently heat the contents through rapid, sustained blending while maintaining nutritional and enzymatic integrity.
Sundry experimentation and creative thinking are sure to help anyone incorporate diverse nutritional fare into practical snacks and meals.
America's 'Phytonutrient Gap': Daily Dose of Color Needed - Newswise
Color categories of fruits and vegetables offer healthy benefits - The Joplin Globe
Nutrilite: Phytonutrients - Amway
About the authorEthan Huff is a freelance writer and health enthusiast who loves exploring the vast world of natural foods and health, digging deep to get to the truth. He runs an online health publication of his own at http://wholesomeherald.blogspot.com.
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