Featured Newsletter Article
Colorful Crops (article taken from the Summer 2014 newsletter)
The summer is more than half over and it won’t be long until we’re putting our beds to sleep for the winter, sorting through unused seed packets and pouring through catalogs for new ideas on what to plant in the spring. I will also be thinking back to the FBGA workshop “What Color Are Your Nutrients?” that I attended in April.
Presenter Adriann Musson asked whether uniquely colored vegetables such as blue or pink tomatoes, yellow cucumbers, purple and white carrots were just novelties or did the colors of our fruits and vegetables provide us with specific nutrients and disease fighting capabilities. The answer was that research has shown that we should be attentive to the colors of the fruits and vegetables we eat because they can have a very important and positive impact on our health.
Adriann told us that if you peel off the skins of veggies you are throwing away phytonutrients (which are different from vitamins) and that studies have shown that organic veggies contain more nutrients, so most of us here at FBGA are ahead of the game in this respect
Green vegetables are good for your eyes, bones and teeth. In this category are spinach, arugula, parsley, lettuce, artichokes, asparagus, avocados, celery, peas, zucchini, brussel sprouts, leeks, broccoli and watercress. The phytonutrients and antioxidants that green crops contain can protect you from eye problems such as macular degeneration and may lower cancer risk. They also contain vitamin K which helps blood clot properly. Deep dark green veggies are the highest in iron so go for them if you want to boost your iron.
Black and purple crops such as blackberries, blueberries, currants, purple asparagus, eggplants, purple figs, raisins, salsify, and purple cabbage contain antioxidants and flavonoids that may decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, destroy cancer cells, provide anti-inflammatory protection and lower the risk of stroke and memory problems.
White veggies and fruits (bananas, cucumbers, apples, ginger, pears, Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips, jicama, turnips, potatoes, shallots, onions and garlic) are high in fiber, helping to protect you from high cholesterol. They are rich in antioxidants, possibly reduce your risk of stroke and they can help repair bone defects. Garlic contains allicin which can improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels. (Adriann told us to smash our garlic to get the maximum amount of nutrients out of it.)
Orange and yellow crops include cantaloupe, carrots, rutabagas, sweet potatoes, yellow beets, yellow figs and yellow peas. Carrots may prevent macular degeneration, tumors in the lung and other cancers; they also have a positive impact on our immune function.
The red group – raspberries, tomatoes, guava, watermelon, red cabbage, cherries, strawberries, beets, kidney beans, radicchio, pomegranates, red grapes, rhubarb – are rich in antioxidants and contain the highest amounts of vitamin C. They can be helpful for prostate problems and improve bone mass. Red fruits and veggies that contain lycopene need to be heated in order to maximize our absorption of the lycopene they contain.
So, if you are tired of your standard colored veggies, why not try some purple carrots, white eggplants, and purple asparagus? I am going to plant some red and white rhubarb amidst my pesky strawberries, and try to work on improving my health through my garden.