Vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and fiber--the good guys
in the food we eat. They make our bodies strong to help us
fight disease and slow the natural aging process. So how do
you know if you are getting enough of these food superheroes?
Bananas are well-known to be an excellent source of potassium.
They are also high in vitamin C, vitamin B6, magnesium, and
manganese. One large banana contains 15% of the recommended
daily allowance of fiber.
At just over 6 calories, one-quarter cup of raw cauliflower
provides almost 20% of the daily recommendation of vitamin
C and is high in fiber. Cauliflower is also an important
source of folate. A member of the cruciferous family of
vegetables, it is recognized as possessing cancer-fighting
Adding onions and garlic to your meals can boost calcium
intake, and provide chromium, a trace mineral important
in maintaining blood sugar levels. Regular consumption of
onions and garlic has been shown to significantly lower
cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
America's favorite white vegetable, the potato, is an
excellent source of vitamin C, potassium, Vitamin B6, niacin
and thiamin. (Don't think that makes it okay to pig-out
on fast-food fries, or bury your baked potato under butter
and sour cream! You know better.)
Yellow fruits, such as pineapple, and papaya, contain large
amounts of both vitamin C and vitamin A giving a generous
boost to your immune system. One half cup of pineapple delivers
almost half the daily recommendation of manganese yet weighs
in at only 40 calories.
Think yellow bell peppers for vitamin C. A one-half cup
serving provides 300% the daily recommendation of vitamin
C. That's a lot of antioxidant power.
Most of us associate beta-carotene, one of the earliest
identified anti-oxidants, with carrots. But you can also
find beta-carotene in oranges, apricots, squash and other
orange fruits and vegetables.
Not just candied yams at Thanksgiving anymore, sweet potatoes
are an amazing package of vitamins and minerals as well
as being high in fiber. One baked sweet potato with provide
significant amounts of phosphorus, vitamin E, thiamin, iron,
copper, magnesium, pantothenic acid, potassium, vitamin
B6, manganese, vitamin C and vitamin A (over 1,000% RDA).
Avocados have gotten a bad reputation as being high in
fat. But they are also high in fiber, folate, potassium,
pantothenic acid, vitamin C and vitamin B6.
Go green, like honeydew melons, green peas, spinach and
collards to supply important carotenoids that reduce the
risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
Also included in the green group of vegetables are broccoli,
Brussels sprouts and cabbage which are, like cauliflower,
cruciferous vegetables and contain powerful carcinogen blockers.
Add tomatoes to your diet to provide lycopene, an antioxidant
associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer and cardiovascular
disease. Surprisingly, cooked tomato products are richer
in lycopene than uncooked tomatoes.
You can also get the benefits of lycopene from watermelon
and pink grapefruit, plus vitamins A and C.
Don't peel your apples! The skin of a Red Delicious is
packed with two very powerful phytochemicals called epicatechin
and procyanidin. Apples are also rich in pectin, a fiber
that has a high capacity to absorb water and improve regularity.
Eat purple grapes or drink concord grape juice to provide
quercetin in your diet. Quercetin has been identified as
an important phytochemical in the prevention of blood clots.
Blueberries, plums, purple cabbage, eggplant and purple
onion provide another phytochemical group prevalent in purple
food, anthocyanins. These anti-oxidant phytochemicals have
been linked with preserved memory and brain function during
the aging process.
Add color to your plate. Your eyes will enjoy the sight and
your body will be receiving important nutrients vital for
If you are interested in learning more about vitamins, minerals
and phytochemicals, I recommend the Linus Pauling Institute
website from the Oregon State University. Oregon State University
Our editor, Jean Fisher, is a former elementary teacher.
She offers What's For Dinner?
as a free service for busy families. One delicious meal
is suggested for each day of the week, plus an organized
grocery shopping list that can be customized to include all
your shopping needs. You will also find two stimulating table topics and
one educational after-dinner activity for each day. Can you solve Alex's Mystery Picture?