kris ulland

Your Nutrition Partner

You might have heard the expression, “Eat the rainbow!”. It is great advice and to illustrate the importance of eating a variety of fruits and vegetable, it is important to know what each color can do for you.

Fruits and vegetables use their colors to signal which beneficial substances they contain. The colors attract the insects and animals that will disperse the plant’s seeds. These phytonutrients are the same chemicals that give flowers their colors.

Eating more vegetables, and focusing on eating a variety of colors, will increase your intake of different nutrients to benefit your health. Try to eat two to three different-colored fruits or vegetables at every meal, as well as one to two at every snack.

RED

Indicates the carotenoid lycopene. Lycopene protects against heart disease and genetic damage that may cause cancer.

  • tomatoes
  • tomato paste
  • tomato sauce
  • watermelon
  • pink guava
  • grapefruit

Main vitamins and minerals:

  • folate
  • potassium
  • vitamin A (lycopene)
  • vitamin C
  • vitamin K1

Health benefits:

  • anti-inflammatory
  • antioxidant
  • may benefit heart health
  • may reduce sun-related skin damage
  • may lower your risk of certain cancers

Dark Red These fruits and vegetables have betalains which are reported to have some antioxidant activity and are found to be effective in inhibiting lipid peroxidation. Lipid peroxidation is the degradation of lipids. It is the process in which free radicals “steal” electrons from the lipids in cell membranes, resulting in cell damage.

  • beets
  • prickly pears

Main vitamins and minerals:

  • fiber
  • folate
  • magnesium
  • manganese
  • potassium
  • vitamin B6

Health benefits:

  • anti-inflammatory
  • antioxidant
  • may lower your risk of high blood pressure
  • may benefit heart health
  • may lower your risk of certain cancers
  • may support athletic performance through increased oxygen uptake

Orange and Yellow Represents alpha-carotene and beta carotene. Carotenes protect against cancer and benefit skin and vision.

  • carrots
  • sweet potatoes
  • yellow peppers
  • bananas
  • pineapple
  • tangerines
  • pumpkin
  • winter squash
  • corn

Main vitamins and minerals:

  • fiber
  • folate
  • potassium
  • vitamin A (beta carotene)
  • vitamin C

Health benefits:

  • anti-inflammatory
  • antioxidant
  • may benefit heart health
  • supports eye health
  • may lower your risk of cancer

Green Leafy greens like micro greens and watercress have chlorophyll and carotenoids. Cruciferous greens like cabbage and kale have indoles, isothiocyanates, glucosinolates.

  • spinach
  • kale
  • broccoli
  • avocados
  • asparagus
  • green cabbage
  • Brussels sprouts
  • green herbs

Main vitamins and minerals:

  • fiber
  • folate
  • magnesium
  • potassium
  • vitamin A (beta carotene)
  • vitamin K1

Health benefits:

  • anti-inflammatory
  • antioxidant
  • cruciferous veggies, in particular, may lower your risk of cancer and heart disease

A yellow-green group of vegetables don’t always appear yellow to the eye. These include spinach, collard, mustard, and turnip greens, yellow corn, peas, and avocado. They contain the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin which are good for eye health and fight atherosclerosis, a disease of the arteries characterized by the deposition of plaques of fatty material on their inner walls.

Blue and Purple Anthocyanin in eggplant, beets, etc. prevent blood clots, delay cell aging and may slow Alzheimer’s onset.

  • blueberries
  • blackberries
  • Concord grapes
  • red/purple cabbage
  • eggplant
  • plums
  • elderberries

Main vitamins and minerals:

  • fiber
  • manganese
  • potassium
  • vitamin B6
  • vitamin C
  • vitamin K1

Health benefits:

  • anti-inflammatory
  • antioxidant
  • may benefit heart health
  • may lower your risk of neurological disorders
  • may improve brain function
  • may lower your risk of type 2 diabetes
  • may lower your risk of certain cancers

 

The pale green – white is caused by allicins, which have powerful anticancer, anti tumor, immune-boosting, and antimicrobial properties. These vegetables also contain antioxidant flavonoids like quercetin and kaempferol.

  • cauliflower
  • garlic
  • leeks
  • onions
  • mushrooms
  • daikon radish
  • parsnips
  • white potatoes

Main Vitamins and Minerals:

  • fiber
  • folate
  • magnesium
  • manganese
  • potassium
  • vitamin B6
  • vitamin K1

Health benefits:

  • anti-inflammatory
  • antioxidant
  • may lower your risk of colon and other cancers
  • may benefit heart health

Eat the rainbow but make sure that it is organic! For most of human history, all agriculture was pesticide-free. This changed dramatically after WWII, when companies that produced chemical weapons for the war began to sell their toxins like nerve gas to farmers to kill off weevils, wireworms, battles, and other agricultural pests.

By the 1950’s American farmers were regularly spraying their crops with DDT, an endocrine disruptor and carcinogen.

In the 1970’s, Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, revealed the harmful side effects of DDT in humans and wildlife. The public’s outrage at learning of this lead to a nationwide ban on its use in agriculture in 1972. But, by then, scientists had already developed whole new classes of chemicals to spray on produce.

Today, more than 5 BILLION pounds of pesticides are used in farming each year. Unfortunately, a quarter of it is used in the United States.

Pesticides are neurotoxic and carcinogenic. A large meta-analysis in the journal Neurotoxicology found that chronic exposure to some common pesticides significantly increased the risk of Parkinson’s disease. Studies in adults and children have also linked pesticide exposure to kidney, pancreatic, prostrate, breast, and stomach cancers.

In a 2005 report, the Environmental Working Group found DDT in the umbilical cords of babies before they even took their first breath. these toxic chemicals stick around!

You can greatly lower your exposure by buying organic. A 2015 study funded by the EPA found that consumers who often or always bought organic had significantly less insecticides in their urine. This was even though these people who are buying organic typically eat 70% more produce than people who bought only conventionally grown fruits and veggies.

Every year the Environmental Working Group releases its finding for which fruits and vegetables you should ALWAYS buy organic. They call it the Dirty Dozen.

For 2021, the Dirty Dozen list includes;

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale, collard greens and mustard greens
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Cherries
  8. Peaches
  9. Pears
  10. Bell and hot peppers
  11. Celery
  12. Tomatoes

All these fruits and vegetables tested positive for pesticide residues and had higher concentrations of pesticides than other produce.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Clean Fifteen includes

  1. Avocado
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapple
  4. Onion
  5. Papaya
  6. Frozen Sweet Peas
  7. Eggplant
  8. Asparagus
  9. Broccoli
  10. Cabbage
  11. Kiwi
  12. Cauliflower
  13. Mushrooms
  14. Honeydew Melon
  15. Cantaloupe

Comparatively fewer pesticides were detected on these foods.

Green Beans

Green beans, also known as string beans or snap beans, are in the same family as shell beans, such as pinto beans, black beans and kidney beans. Yet unlike their cousins, green beans’ entire bean, pod and seed, can be eaten.

Green beans are the immature form of the common kidney-shaped bean. They are harvested before beans begin forming inside the pods. Most of green beans’ energy is stored within the seed.  Without using fertilizer, green beans have enough food to nourish them until their first true leaves appear.

One cup of raw green beans has just 31 calories, no fat, and only 3.6 grams of sugar. Green beans contain no cholesterol.

Green beans contain protein. Plant proteins are not complete proteins; that is, they lack at least one of the amino acids your body needs. But plant proteins are still beneficial. They can be combined with other proteins throughout the day to make complete proteins. One cup of raw green beans has almost 2 g of protein.

Green beans contain many essential vitamins, including folate. One cup of raw green beans contains 33 micrograms (mcg) of folate, almost 10 percent of the daily recommended value. Folate is a B vitamin that helps prevent neural tube defects and other birth defects.

Raw green beans are also a good source of vitamin C. One cup contains 12.2 mg, around 25 percent of the daily recommended value. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps boost your immune system. It’s also integral for the production of collagen and helps protect your skin from oxidative stress.

One cup of raw green beans provides 690 IU of Vitamin A, a little less than 15 percent of the daily recommended value. Vitamin A isn’t a single vitamin. It’s a group of compounds known as retinoids. Vitamin A is important to immune health, reproduction, and healthy vision.

Some other vitamins in one cup of raw green beans include:

  • vitamin K: 43 mcg
  • thiamin: 0.1 mg
  • niacin: 0.7 mg
  • vitamin B-6: 0.14 mg
  • vitamin E: 0.41 mg

Green beans are a good source of minerals, especially manganese. This essential mineral supports your metabolism and has antioxidant abilities. It also supports bone health and promotes wound healing.

Other minerals in one cup of raw green beans include:

  • calcium: 37 mg
  • iron: 1.03 mg
  • magnesium: 25 mg
  • phosphorous: 38 mg
  • potassium: 211 mg
  • zinc: 0.24 mg

One cup of raw green beans has 2.7 g of fiber. Cooked (boiled) green beans have 4.0 g of fiber, some of it soluble fiber. Soluble fiber may help lower LDL and total cholesterol levels. It may also support heart health by lowering blood pressure and reducing inflammation.

FODMAPs are undigested carbohydrates that are metabolized by bacteria in your gut leading to gas, belly pain, diarrhea, and constipation, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Eating foods high in FODMAPs may worsen digestive conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and acid reflux. Eating low FODMAP foods may bring considerable relief. Green beans are a low FODMAP food.

They’re also easy to grow, with the added bonus of improving the soil they grow in because of their ability to “fix” nitrogen from the air in nodules attached to the bean roots. When the nodulated bean roots decompose, they liberate the nitrogen to become available for the next year’s crop planted in that spot.

How to Buy

Fresh, locally grown green beans are easy to find in the summer. A green bean at its peak should have vivid color, a firm texture, and “snap” when broken. If possible, purchase green beans at a store or farmer’s market that sells them loose so that you can sort through them to choose the beans of best quality.

If you have a surplus or find them sold in bulk at a farmers’ market, they also freeze well, especially if you harvest them while slender and freeze them whole.

How to Store

Store unwashed fresh beans pods in a plastic bag kept in the refrigerator crisper. Whole beans stored this way should keep for about seven days.

Green beans are definitely a vegetable that can be frozen. Research studies on the nutritional consequences of freezing green beans show the ability of green beans to retain valuable amounts of nutrients for 3-6 months after freezing. If you don’t have fresh green beans available on a year-round basis, purchasing frozen green beans can definitely provide you with a nutritionally valuable option.

Store unwashed fresh beans in a reusable glass container or wrapped in a cotton tea towel in the refrigerator crisper. Whole beans stored this way should keep for about seven days.

Freezing Green Beans: Rinse your green beans in cool water and then drain. Cut the ends of the beans off and then cut the beans to whatever length you prefer.

Put the green beans into rapidly boiling water, cover the pot and boil them for 3 minutes. (You can re-use this water three to five times – but make sure it’s brought back to a rolling boil).

Use a large slotted spoon to remove the green beans from the boiling water and immediately plunge them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Keep them in the ice water for 3 minutes. Drain them well.

Put the green beans into a reusable airtight freezer container. Make sure you get as much air out of the container or ziplock bag as possible to help prevent freezer burn.

How to Cook

Just prior to using the green beans, wash them under running water. Remove both ends of the beans by either snapping them off or cutting them with a knife. Modern varieties of this native American vegetable no longer have “strings” down the sides of the pods that need to be pulled off before eating

If you are snapping the ends off, pull the end down the side of the bean to remove any possible string. Do the same thing with the other tip, pulling it down the other side of the bean.

Boiling Green Beans: Boil a medium to large pot of water. Wash the green beans (see above) and throw them in the pot and boil for about 4 minutes. They’ll turn a bright green color in the process. This will make a nice, crunchy bean. If you prefer yours mushy, boil them a little longer. Empty the beans into a colander to drain the water.

Steaming Green Beans: The fastest method for cooking fresh green beans is to steam them (because it’s faster to bring an inch of water to a boil than a whole pot of water.) Set a steamer basket in a saucepan with an inch of water in it and add the fresh green beans to the basket. When the water comes to a boil, cover the pan, reduce the heat a little, and steam about 4 minutes.

Green String Bean Soup

Florentina of Veggie Society

4 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb green or yellow string beans (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 tbsp water (or a drizzle of olive oil)
  • 13 cloves garlic
  • 2.5 cups non-dairy milk substitute
  • 3.5 cups vegetable stock (low sodium)
  • 1 carrot – sliced into thin rounds
  • 4 tbsp  gluten-free flour
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 leaves bay
  • 5 sprigs fresh dill
  • 1 cup fresh tomatoes – chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh dill – roughly chopped
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes + more to taste
  • sea salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast (OPTIONAL)

Instructions

  • Rinse the beans, discard the ends and snap them in half or smaller pieces to your liking.
  • You can steam the beans in advance. Prepare a double boiler with 2 inches of water in the bottom pot. Bring to a simmer and then place the green string beans in the top basket. Cover with a lid and steam for 10 to 15 minutes or until just tender. Check after 10 minutes to make sure you don’t overcook the beans. Remove from the steam and transfer to a bowl. Rinse with ice cold water to stop the cooking process at this point. Refrigerate until ready to use. (Alternatively you can use the 1- pot method below but take good care not to overcook them).

1-Pot Method:

  • Carefully smash the garlic cloves with the side of a chef’s knife and discard the paper.
  • Heat up a soup pot over medium low flame. Add a light drizzle of olive oil and sauté the garlic until golden in color and soft. Take good care not to burn it or it will turn bitter. Add a splash of veggie stock if needed to create extra steam. Once cooked, transfer the garlic to a small bowl and set aside.
  • Add the carrots and red pepper flakes to the pot and give them a good stir. Sautee for about 5 minutes or so until the carrots begin to soften.
  • In a separate bowl whisk together the flour with the non-dairy milk ,vegetable stock, onion powder and nutritional yeast until combined and there are no lumps. Add the mixture to the soup pot and bring to a simmer. Add the bay leaves, dill sprigs and reserved garlic and cook together for 10 minutes until slightly thickened. Stir often to keep from sticking.
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste.
  • Add the green beans and simmer an additional 10 minutes or so until the beans are al dente. Check often making sure not to overcook them. If using steamed green beans just add them to the soup and simmer only a couple of minutes or until warmed through. Remove from heat and discard the bay and dill sprigs.
  • Stir in the chopped fresh tomatoes, taste and adjust seasonings again. Serve with lots of fresh dill, red pepper flakes and freshly cracked black pepper on top.
  • Great served hot or cold.

Resources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4354933/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6770874/
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https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31267783/
https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/crucifeous-vegetables
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-benefits-of-blueberries
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/heart-healthy-foods
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/daikon-radish
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-magnesium-benefits
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-beets
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https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2854?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=35&offset=&sort=&qlookup=green+beans https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf034861d
https://analyticalsciencejournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/pca.2385
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https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13197-016-2391-9
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https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Savita-Chaurasia/publication/273028417_Evaluation_of_Total_Phenol_and_Flavonoid_Content_Antioxidant_and_Iron_Chelation_Activities_of_Ethanolic_Extracts_of_Green_Beans/links/54f583ae0cf2f28c1364cffb/Evaluation-of-Total-Phenol-and-Flavonoid-Content-Antioxidant-and-Iron-Chelation-Activities-of-Ethanolic-Extracts-of-Green-Beans.pdf
https://www.sweetwater-organic.org/veggies/green-beans/
https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/green-beans#heart-health
https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2855?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=35&offset=&sort=&qlookup=green+beans
https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2014/02/take-control-of-ibs-with-low-fodmap-diet/

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