colorful fresh group fruits

Fresh Green, Red, Yellow Fruits to Build Your Immune System

colorful fresh group fruits

Fruits are delicious, nutritious, and colorful – but did you know that many of the molecular compounds that give fruits their vibrant color are also great for building your immune system? A number of different compounds give fruit their different colors, including acids, oils, and phytonutrients. These same compounds are used by the body to fight off infections and reduce inflammation. Eating a healthy amount of colorful fruit is one of the best things you can do to build your immune function. Different colors indicate different healthy compounds:

Orange and Yellow fruit typically contain the most vitamin C, among other nutrients. Citrus fruits get their bright colors from the more than 8,000 different flavonoids they contain. And flavonoids have been shown to have antioxidant properties, reduce inflammation, and improve cardiovascular function. They also not only have direct antibacterial properties, but also have been shown to actually work synergistically with antibiotics, boosting their effectiveness.

Red fruit have many antioxidant and immune-building properties as well. Cranberry juice has long been known to contain compounds that can prevent and treat urinary tract infections, and also can help reduce the need for antibiotics in elderly patients. Tomatoes get their red color from lycopene, a compound that also has antioxidant properties and helps promote cell health. And goji berries are becoming an increasingly popular “miracle fruit” that has been shown to increase the levels of important immune cells in the bloodstream.

Blue and Purple fruit are a great source of antioxidants as well. Blueberries get their color from a group of compounds called anthocyanins, which like lycopene are potent antioxidants. These compounds can help reduce inflammation and stress on the immune system. Red (or purple) grapes also contain anthocyanins, and regularly consuming grapes can significantly boost antioxidant levels in the body, helping to reduce the risk of certain cancers as well as promoting longer life.

red dry chillies table

Spicy Hot Food is Great for You! So Spice It Up!

red dry chillies table

Spicy food is popular all over the world, from spicy chilies in Thai food to “atomic” hot sauce in Southern cooking. A number of studies have found that it may not simply be for the thrill a spicy meal gives our taste buds – there are a number of health benefits to spicy food, which may be why we crave spicy food. These health benefits can help improve heart health, prevent cancer and even help us live longer. As we age, these concerns become more important – so if you don’t already incorporate spicy foods into your diet, you may want to start. Here are some of the top benefits to eating spicy foods:

  • Promotes weight loss Studies show that capsaicin, the compound that gives spicy chilies their kick, can raise the body’s internal temperature and improve metabolic processes, helping burn calories for up to twenty minutes after a spicy meal.
  • Improves cardiovascular health Those cultures where spicy food is the most popular tend to have much lower rates of heart attack and stroke than the rest of the world. Part of the reason may be that capsaicin helps reduce inflammation, which is a major risk factor in heart disease.
  • Lowers blood pressure Capsaicin has been shown to activate a receptor in blood vessels that helps relax them and lower blood pressure. Spicy foods also reduce the effects of bad cholesterol, another cause of high blood pressure and cardiovascular health problems.
  • Prevents cancer The American Association for Cancer Research has found that capsaicin can kill certain kinds of cancer cells. And one of the key ingredients to many curry dishes and mustards – turmeric – may be able to slow the growth of tumors.

If you aren’t someone who tolerates spicy food easily, you can still get the health benefits of capsaicin and other spices. Green and red bell peppers have capsinoid, a molecule that is similar to capsaicin and may mimic some of its benefits. And mild curry dishes contain all of the benefits of turmeric and other spices – without the burn.