I promised more COLOR, didn’t I? …then what a perfect time to give GREEN its due! After all, this month brought us the Feast of Saint Patrick (with all its St. Paddy festivities, of course), and now the start of a new season in life! Yes, Spring has officially sprung here—with shades of grey long dead (!)… So thinking green, seeing green, and anticipating much more green has come quite naturally lately. And that’s something good for us [body, mind & spirit!] and something that involves our food, as well, for all year long. But if, however, our desire for the color green [from plant foods, that is] has been lost, or maybe never found, let us do something about it now − in this new season, on, for life! And hopefully, as we come to know these many shades of green, we will see good reason to fall in love with them for their ability to help − to actually do the body good, rather than harm; to foster wellness, rather than disease… And that we will find it more easy to include, and truly appreciate, being more green, more often!
Let us take a look then at a just a sampling of some of the health-promoting [disease-fighting] components known to dominate with “green” – compounds in plant foods that are part of a very large, complex & synergistic family of phytochemicals.
♣ Lutein – potential role in lowering risk for: cardiovascular disease, cancer, cataracts & age-related macular degeneration; particularly unique in its ability to help protect & maintain healthy eye cells, acting as an antioxidant within the eye & as a filter for harmful light rays. The American Optometric Association notes (per AOA site) that of the 600 carotenoids found in nature, lutein is one – of only two – that is deposited in high quantities in the retina of the eye (the other being zeaxanthin). Sources include: kale, turnip greens, collard greens, spinach, broccoli, romaine lettuce, garden peas, Brussels sprouts, okra, zucchini, kiwi, honeydew melon, avocado, pear.
♣ Sulforaphane – potential role in lowering risk for: neuro-degenerative disease (including Alzheimer’s & Parkinson’s disease), cancer (aiding in the detoxification of cancer-causing substances), and for infection. Sources include: broccoli (especially high in broccoli sprouts), cabbage, Brussels sprouts.
♣ Cryptoxanthin – an antioxidant and pro-vitamin A compound (with a structure similar to beta-carotene) that may help to prevent, as well as repair, free-radical damage to cells & to DNA; potential to inhibit carcinogenesis. Sources include: avocado, peas, kiwifruit.
♣ Limonene – potential to aid in proper functioning of immune system and of anti-tumor activities. Sources include: oils of green lime (citrus), celery.
♣ Beta-sitosterol – a plant sterol that may help to reduce cholesterol levels (LDL), as well inflammation particularly relating to the prostrate (or BPH: benign prostatic hyperplasia). Sources include: avocado, soybeans.
♣ Kaempferol – an antioxidant capable of reducing free radicals, as well as harmful effects of oxidative stress upon cells; possibly helping to safeguard cell lifespan; Potential for lowering risk of chronic inflammation & diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and dementia. Sources include: broccoli, Chinese cabbage, kale, beans, endive, leek, grapes, Brussels sprouts, apples, cucumber, parsley.
♣ Rutin – an antioxidant which may also help protect against chronic inflammation, diabetes, blood clots, and dementia… Sources include: asparagus, limes, apples.
Yet, before we get too green with envy for any one type of phytochemical or item, it’s important to remember that it’s not all about one type of food or specific compound/nutrient, or even all one color, of course. Because wellness is really more a matter of what’s “golden“! …And what’s golden lies in moderation and variety, like Aristotle’s famous Golden Mean: the desirable middle between two extremes [one of excess and the other of deficiency]. So moderation & variety still remain key, even in good things (including natural compounds!) because they, too, can be taken too far. And where extremes lead, imbalances do follow, as well as problems, particularly for susceptible individuals with certain pre-existing conditions or underlying predispositions; or who take certain medications due to potential drug-nutrient interactions. Therefore, even when it comes to our greens, dramatic & excessive intakes of certain items can create potential medical-related consequences. For example, because vitamin K can lessen the effectiveness of blood-thinning medications (like warfarin), a consistent & non-excessive intake of vitamin K sources [such as kale, spinach, collard or turnip greens, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts] is recommended when on this type of medication. Doctors at times may also advise other individual patients (with history of a particular type of kidney stone) to restrict high-oxalate food sources [which would include Swiss chard, collards, and raw spinach]. Plus caution is advised, as well, regarding the use of natural goitrogens [such as those in raw kale and cabbage, or soybeans] in the presence of existing or underlying thyroid issues (or if iodine deficient); where an excess of these raw items could exacerbate further problems. So, of course, we should always consult with our own personal physicians regarding such matters, relating to individual circumstances.
Excesses within one area can also cause a deficiency to develop within another area, either directly (such as from a lack of varied intake) or indirectly (such as when a certain nutrient or compound consistently interferes with the absorption/use of another nutrient, which it may bind or compete with).
So, let us not forget the Golden Mean then… and the benefits of choosing a variety of fruits & vegetables, including all colors, in many healthy shades — all special — and intended to help, not harm… body, mind, or spirit.−EF
Note: Plant sources of above compounds [phytochemicals] will include certain other colors as well (not limited to green).
[PS: For related post about “red“, see A Bouquet of Red… for You & Me! ]
©2014.–The Way to Nourish for Life RD. Please refer to ABOUT section of “The Way to Nourish for Life” for caveat: https://thewaytonourishforlife.wordpress.com/about
Just for fun, this post is linked to Sunday Snippets–A Catholic Carnival