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What are phytonutrients? And why do you need them?

Updated: Dec 12, 2019

Phytonutrients — the name sounds so technical. To make it simple, phytonutrients are the disease fighting, body strengthening nutrients found in vegetables and fruits like: arugula, cranberries, carrots, beets, and much more. Phytonutrients have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that are beneficial to living a healthy life.

Unfortunately, most people don't get enough phytonutrients.

31% get enough greens

22% get enough reds

21% get enough yellows & oranges

14% get enough whites

12% get enough purples & blues

How much do you need? For maximum benefits to your health, eat 1 cup of each color every day.

Green vegetables and fruits contain several phytonutrients including lutein and flavonoids. They're also an excellent source of fiber, and folate, as well as containing vitamins C & K, and the minerals iron and calcium. When you break it down, they're antioxidant superstars.

How do I get more greens into my life?

- Drink green tea

- Add kale, spinach, collards or chard to smoothies and just about any meal

- Eat a variety of salad greens

- Add parsley to meals

- Add peas to salads or meals

- Add cabbage, green beans, or bokchoy to a stir-fry

- Add steamed broccoli to meals

- Make broccoli or brussels sprout slaw

Red fruits and vegetables like peppers, tomatoes, tart cherries, raspberries, and beets are packed with antioxidants such as vitamins A & C, manganese, and fiber making them especially important for heart health.

How do I get more reds into my life?

- Use (healthy/homemade) tomato sauce for veggies, pasta, lasagna, or pizza

- Make cranberry/pistachio energy bites

- Snack on (or grill) watermelon, grapefruit, cherries

- Add raspberries or cranberries to oatmeal or salads

- Add frozen cherries to smoothies

- Make chili with tomatoes and chili powder

- Make a red cabbage slaw or add to a salad

- Make homemade tomato soup

Orange & yellow fruits and veggies are rich in beta-carotene and flavonoids, as well as manganese, potassium, vitamin A, fiber, and magnesium.

How do I get more orange and yellow foods into my life?

- Create meals that utilize squash and pumpkin

- Make butternut squash or carrot/ginger or sweet potato soups

- Add turmeric to soups, sauces, and dressings

- Add peaches or pineapple to salads and/or grill both

- Add clementines, oranges, mango or cantaloupe to salads or eat as snacks

- Add mango to fish dishes

- Add ginger to soups, sauces, and dressings

Yes, indeed there are white vegetables and fruits like garlic, onion, apple, and rutabaga. These foods are rich in flavonols, as well as vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and fiber.

How do I get more white veggies and fruits in my life?

- Add garlic to just about any recipe

- Drink green or black tea

- Snack and cook with apples

- Add coconut to a smoothie or a recipe

- Make parsnip soup or roast parsnips or parsnip puree

- Make cauliflower puree or riced cauliflower or mashed cauliflower

- Make leek soup or add leeks to recipes

Purple and blue veggies and fruits are some of my favorites. Blueberries, eggplant, grapes, and plums, OH MY! These foods are powerhouses of antioxidants and also rich in rich in vitamin A and flavonoids.

How do I get more purples and blue veggies and fruits in my life?

- Snack on and cook with grapes

- Grill or add eggplant to meals

- Add blueberries to salads, oatmeal, smoothies

- Make roasted beet salad

- Add blackberries to smoothies or salads

- Snack on or add strawberries to oatmeal, salads, smoothies

- Make a purple cabbage slaw or add to stir fry

- Roast purple potatoes

- Add radicchio to salads

So many options out there to make sure you're getting a wide variety of phytonutrients in your diet. Check out a variety of recipes on the website or Pinterest for even more ways to include that 1 cup of each color/day.

Check out the new workout for the week on the website or Youtube: Front & Side Plank Workout

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