Eat A Rainbow, Part 2: Health Benefits Of Green Foods

Friday, December 15, 2006 - 10:03am

By Heidi Reichenberger McIndoo, MS, RD

In Part 1, I explained of the virtues of red fruits and veggies. This article explains all the wonderful attributes of the great green foods.


The substances in fruits and vegetables that produce all of these wonderful health benefits and are responsible for the beautiful colors are called phytonutrients or phytochemicals. These substances are found naturally in plant foods. They offer health benefits in addition to the standard nutrients (vitamins, minerals, protein, etc.) found in all whole foods. These benefits include lowering your risk of diseases and cancers.

What’s in the green foods?

While dark green plant foods are loaded with nutrients, one of their biggest claims to fame is lutein. Lutein is an antioxidant found in high levels in a type of eye tissue called the macula. The macula helps tell the brain what the eye is seeing; it is also responsible for the central vision that enables us to drive, read and perform activities in which we need to see straight-ahead clearly. Degeneration of the macula happens with age and is the leading cause of blindness in elderly men and women. Regular consumption of lutein-rich foods helps prevent macula degeneration, thus lowering your risk of blindness.

By helping prevent macular damage, lutein also helps to prevent cataract development. A cataract is a cloud development in the eye’s lens that causes blurry vision and light sensitivity.

Green foods to eat

  • Avocados
  • Green grapes
  • Kiwifruit
  • Broccoli
  • Green peppers
  • Spinach
  • Asparagus
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Green beans
  • Zucchini
  • Green peas
  • Snow peas

Ways to boost your green intake

  • Add a box of frozen chopped broccoli when cooking the macaroni from a box of macaroni and cheese or other boxed rice/pasta side dishes.
  • Put a couple of thin slices of avocado on a turkey sandwich.
  • Freeze grapes for a cool, sweet treat.

For further information on green color foods and health see the following article from TheDietChannel: Prevent Cancer & Heart Disease with Phytochemicals.