Orange and green seem to be the colours of the season in autumn. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)

Orange and green seem to be the colours of the season in autumn. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)

ACTIVE LIVING: Harvest the colours of autumn for your plate

Orange and dark green vegetables are important to include all year round in your diet

SANDRA GENTLEMAN

SPECIAL TO THE NEWS

Orange and green seem to be the colours of the season in autumn. These two colours are important to include all year round, in your diet, in the form of orange and dark green vegetables (and fruits) daily.

There are good reasons to include plant foods of this colour.

Squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, yam, pumpkins, bell peppers, apricots, cantaloupe and oranges all offer antioxidant properties that help to keep your immune system strong. Peas, broccoli, cabbage, kiwis, Brussel sprouts, spinach, kale, arugula and other lettuces will provide beneficial nutrients to help maintain health, cognitive function and prevent chronic disease.

Fresh cabbage is an economical vegetables that lasts a long time fresh in the fridge and can offer your household more than a couple of meals.

Slicing or shredding, baking, roasting, braising, steaming and stir-frying all offer versatile methods to prepare cabbage. Adding it to soups, salads, casseroles, sandwiches, tacos and even burgers can offer variety for taste and texture. Coleslaw is a delicious side dish. Sauerkraut is one of the most famous prepared cabbage dishes that provides probiotics in the diet to help maintain gut health.

Loaded with vitamin C, folate, potassium, calcium, vitamin K and fibre, this cruciferous vegetable is packed with antioxidants (indoles and isothiocyanates) which are important phytochemicals that help mop up free radicals and rid the body of cancer-causing particles.

Carrots, with their high beta-carotene content, help keep vision sharp, plus can guard against cataract and macular degeneration in the long-term.

Eating carrots cooked rather than raw will help your body absorb more of the beneficial carotene antioxidant, as heating vegetables releases antioxidants by breaking down cell walls. If you prefer your carrots raw, eat them with a dip such as hummus or tzatziki, since the carotenoids are fat-soluble and more easily absorbed if eating with something that has some fat content. Potassium, vitamin K and fibre are some other important nutrients in carrots.

Including orange and green plant foods daily will offer protection for your health and provide important dietary benefits for your lifestyle.

Sandra Gentleman, RD, is a Port Alberni-based registered dietitian. Her Active Living column will appear every few weeks in the Alberni Valley News and online at www.albernivalleynews.com.

Health and wellness