Summertime brings along with it a bevy of delicious fruits and vegetables like watermelon, tomatoes, strawberries and red peppers. Consumers should take advantage of the availability of such produce, since dietitian Donna Fields reports that they may help to stave off several illnesses.
Fields said that red, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables contain carotenoids, which include antioxidants like lutein, beta-carotene, lycopene and beta-cryptoxanthin. In addition to giving the bright produce its color, the antioxidants may also reduce an individual's chance of getting cancer.
The dietitian cited several epidemiological studies to support the disease-fighting benefits of carotenoids. She said that lycopene, in particular, has been linked to a decreased risk of cancer, especially that of the prostate.
In addition to locally grown produce, Fields said that tropical fruits like guava and papaya have powerful antioxidant properties.
"We continue to learn that bright colored fruits and vegetables are best for our bodies," says Phil Lempert, founder of Food Nutrition & Science, the journal in which Fields' article appears.
The finding that richly colored produce also tends to be the most healthful should make it easy for consumers to choose the most nutrient-dense foods.