Eating a balanced and colorful diet of whole foods is best for your health. Phytonutrients are beneficial compounds found in various colored foods and pack quite the nutritional punch. These little phytochemicals found in plants play a very important role in protecting health and reducing the risks of chronic illnesses like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. See our informative overview article on phytonutrients for more details.
Yellow foods provide specific phytonutrients that aren’t found in foods of other colors.
Yellows are Important
Yellow foods feature phytonutrients that can’t necessarily be found in the other color groups. Yellows are known for their ability to protect your body against cancer as well as promote brain, vascular, heart, skin and eye health. They contain anti-inflammatory properties that aid the body’s overall functioning.
The carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin are both found in yellow foods. Also found in greens like kale and spinach, these phytonutrients are particularly known for their ability to reduce the risk of chronic eye illnesses such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. It is believed that the antioxidant properties of these compounds are what promote healthy eyes. Like other carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin are best absorbed by the body when they are consumed with fat. This is because they are fat soluble. Eating these foods with olive oil or another healthy fat is the best method of intake.
The family of carotenoids is known for its implications for the prevention of cancer. Lutein, zeaxanthin, lycopene, and other carotenoids have been studied, and research suggests that consuming these compounds as part of a natural diet can reduce the incidence and risk of developing cancer.
Bromelain is a compound that is found in pineapple and is well known for its use as an anti-inflammatory. Studies suggest that it may be useful in the treatment of arthritis, ulcerative colitis and sinusitis. Pineapple and pineapple juice are the best sources of bromelain.
There are a host of yellow foods to choose from. Fruits include bananas, Golden Delicious apples, lemons, Asian pears, starfruit, and pineapple. Yellow veggies include corn, summer squash, yellow bell peppers and Yukon gold potatoes. Ginger root is a great source of flavor and bioflavonoids. Ginger is well known for its anti-inflammatory compounds and is a great addition to beverages and meals.
It’s important to note that bananas, corn, and potatoes all represent foods that are higher in starches. People with diabetes, in particular, should be cautious when consuming these as they can cause spikes in blood sugar.
How to Eat More Yellows
Lemons are an extremely versatile yellow fruit. They can be added to beverages like water or unsweetened tea as well as to entrees like stir-fry or salad. Ginger can be used in beverages, stir-fries, and desserts. Bananas are one of the simplest yellows to incorporate into your diet. Banana can be added to your oatmeal or cereal or can be eaten all on its own. Again, people with glucose metabolism issues such as diabetes should be mindful of the the starches in bananas. Frozen corn kernels are very reasonably priced and can be added to a host of meals; stir-fries, casseroles, salads and more. Corn on the cob can be boiled or roasted for a delicious addition to your meal. Golden Delicious Apples and Asian pears are great to have around the house for a snack and also make a great addition to a salad. Replacing a traditional, Russet potato with a Yukon Gold potato is an easy way to sub in some additional phytonutrients into the diet. Pineapple is a tasty fruit, strong in vitamins and minerals that can be eaten as a snack or as dessert. Summer squash is flavorful and high in phytonutrients. It can be added to soups, eaten as a side, or baked into other meals. There are tons of ways to prepare yellow foods. Make an effort to add them to meals that you wouldn’t otherwise. You’ll often be pleasantly surprised by the results!
Yellow foods feature a host of healthful benefits. Heavy in phytonutrients, particularly the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, your yellows can aid your body in reducing inflammation, supporting the immune system, protecting the brain, heart and vascular system as well as promoting skin and eye health. There are a variety of yellow foods to choose from that are widely available in most grocery stores. Organic corn, pineapple, Yukon Gold potatoes, summer squash, Golden Delicious Apples, Asian Pears, summer squash, and bananas remain a few of the most popular yellows. With some creativity and a concerted effort, incorporating yellows into your diet can be an easy, healthful process.