Get your vitamins the old fashioned way with delicious fruits and vegetables. Learn which foods provide the most nutrients and put them to use in your kitchen and with the kids.
Taking a supplement is one thing, but at this time of year when farms are ample with a variety of colorful produce of every size shape and color – why not cut right to the source?
Fruits and vegetables picked at peak spring and summer ripeness deliver the most flavor and texture. When used along side healthy foods like whole grains, legumes/beans, nuts, seeds, savory cheeses and lots of sunshine, you’ll be sure to get all the nutrients you need.
Plus, eating foods that are better for your body also tends to be better for the planet. Choosing nutrient-rich, unprocessed foods (preferably seasonal, locally grown ones) helps curb the estimated 24 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions produced the food industry, a large portion of which comes from processing and packaging.
Unprocessed and unrefined, natural, and organic whole fruits and vegetables offer the body vitamins, phytochemicals, in an easily assimilated form. No supplement manufacturer has been successful in replicating the way nature preserves and delivers these important nutrients.
Plant cells have a perfect protective environment for vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals keeping them potent and effective so that you get the full spectrum of health benefits when you eat them.
Unlike with supplements, you never have to worry that you are getting too much of a certain vitamin or wonder if one nutrient will cancel out another. Choose a variety of colorful foods to eat and let nature do the balancing for you.
Now let’s look at our ABC’s of Vitamins
A- Vitamin A plays an important role in our ability to arm ourselves against colds and flus and may help prevent cancers. A maintains the respiratory, intestinal, and urinary tracts, and helps the skin protect against viruses entering into the body and it promotes healthy eyesight.
Where to find it- Apricots, cantaloupe, carrots, collard greens, kale, eggs, sweet potatoes, spinach, Swiss chard
B- Vitamin B, a family of team working nutrients including: thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, B6, biotin, folate, B12. Each helps the body transform food into energy. Some replace old cells with new ones while others help keep nerve and brain cells in working order. Folate is especially important for pregnant women in protecting the baby against certain known birth defects. Vitamin B6 and B12 may guard against heart disease.
Where to find it- Asparagus, avocados, beans, corn, green beans, leafy greens( dandelion and collards), onions, peas, whole wheat, yogurt
C- Vitamin C is the multitasking vitamin, preventing colds, a powerful antioxidant- countering the effects of free radicals that could lead to heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and neurological problems.
Where to find it- Bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cherries, cranberries, kiwi, mangoes, onions, oranges
D- Vitamin D is getting attention increasingly because it helps the body absorb calcium- helping prevent osteoporosis. In addition to keeping bones and teeth strong Vitamin D regulates cell growth. Not very many foods are naturally rich in Vitamin D, our bodies main source of it is through sunlight.
Where to find it- Eggs, Salmon, Tuna, Sunlight
E- Vitamin E can help limit the production of harmful free radicals and defends against heart attack and stroke. E plays an active role in activating vitamin K.
Where to find it- Almonds, avocados, dandelion greens, sunflower seeds, kiwi, leafy greens, mangoes, tomato puree
K- Vitamin K helps stop bleeding, enabling blood to clot. K helps strengthen bones and increases bone density. Even though your body can manufacture this vitamin on its own from gut bacteria, its still important to get it from food sources.
Where to find it- Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, watercress
Mix and match your ABC’s in your meals using the tips below:
- Use the Color Principal- when selecting produce just remember, the more colors, the more balanced your meals will be, ensuring that you and your little ones are eating your alphabet.
- Keep it Fresh- To really get the full on nutritional benefits of these ABC packed foods, make sure to source them fresh and in the season, canned and frozen are less than excellent choices.
- Pack it in Each Meal- Make sure that each breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack is an opportunity to eat whole foods. Consumption of convenience foods makes our bodies crave the vitamins and minerals that we are lacking and often make us hungrier. If you do have a snack like pretzels for instance, make sure to pair it with something like apple slices and almond butter.
- Make it Tasty- Using a variety of interesting marinades, nut butters, sauces, spice mixtures to enhance flavor of vegetables and fruits and create yummy side dishes, main courses and snacks.
- Make it Fun- If you go grocery shopping with young children, allow them to be a part of the experience. Have them choose a food for every color in he rainbow- for instance, “today I would like you to pick two purple fruits or veggies, and 3 green vegetables or fruits” it engages young kids and weaves in learning at the same time.
Even if you don’t know what to do with the produce, you can check out ecomii’s recipe finder for quick, healthy recipes and just print and prep your meals from there.