' Open your eyes to yellow vegetables - Judith C. Thalheimer, R.D., L.D.N.

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November 20th, 2017

Prevention

Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

 Judith C. Thalheimer, R.D., L.D.N.

By Judith C. Thalheimer, R.D., L.D.N.

Published Dec. 1, 2014

We hear a lot about the health benefits of brightly colored vegetables, such as scarlet red tomatoes and deep green leaves, but paler shades often are overlooked. Yellow vegetables also pack a powerful nutrition punch.

THE EYES HAVE IT

When it comes to vision-boosting veggies, carrots get all the attention, but yellow vegetables actually have more of some key eye-protecting nutrients. Yellow vegetables get their color from lutein, an antioxidant that, along with its partner, zeaxanthin, protects the retina and lens of the eye from oxidative damage.

Research has shown that eating foods rich in zeaxanthin and lutein like yellow sweet corn and acorn squash, may prevent cataracts. This dynamic duo also may slow the development of age-related macular degeneration, the number one cause of severe vision loss in people over 60.

OH SAY CAN YOU C

Protecting our eyes isn't the only thing these golden-hued beauties can do for our health. Yellow vegetables are rich in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant with the potential to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Vitamin C also plays an important role in the immune system and helps us absorb iron from plant foods.

NUTRITION POWERHOUSES

Many yellow vegetables are rich in a variety of important nutrients. For example, winter squashes like acorn squash are packed with lutein and zeaxanthin, as well as vitamins A, C and B6, thiamin, potassium, magnesium, manganese, iron, fiber, folate and pantothenic acid.

That's why eating a diet rich in vegetables may reduce the risk for heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and certain types of cancer. So, enjoy yellow vegetables as a colorful addition to your everyday diet.

YELLOW VEGETABLE COMPARISON

1. Winter squash (acorn, spaghetti squash)

Culinary suggestions: Remove seeds, then bake, steam or boil.

Star nutrients: Vitamin C, potassium, thiamin, B6, magnesium, lutein, zeaxanthin

Health benefits: May help protect vision, lower blood pressure and reduce risk of heart disease.

2. Broccoflower (a cross between broccoli and cauliflower)

Culinary suggestions: Steam, roast, sauté or eat raw with your favorite dip of in salads.

Star nutrients: Vitamin C, folate, fiber

Health benefits: May help lower risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer.

3. Rutabaga

Culinary suggestions: Peel, cube, boil and mash for a change from mashed potatoes.

Star nutrients: Vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, fiber

Health benefits: May help lower blood pressure and reduce risk of cancer.

4. Sweet corn

Culinary suggestions: Boil or grill. Eat on the cob or off in salads, snacks and soups.

Star nutrients: Thiamin, fiber, vitamin C, niacin, folate, lutein, zaexanthin.

Health benefits: May help lower blood pressure and cancer risk

5. Yellow peppers

Culinary suggestions: Enjoy raw, sauteed, stuffed or roasted.

Star nutrients: Vitamin C and B6, folate, potassium

Health benefits: May help lower blood pressure and cancer risk.

6. Yellow snap beans

Culinary suggestions: Use like greens beans. Excellent blanched, in salads with vinaigrette.

Star nutrients: Vitamin C, fiber, folate

Health benefits: May help lower risk of heart disease

7. Yellow summer squash

Culinary suggestions: Slice into salads, dip, sauté, steam, toast, or bursh slabs with olive oil and garlic, and grill.

Star nutrients: Fiber, vitamin C, lutei, zeasanthin

Health benefits: May protect vision and lower the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease

8. Yellow tomatoes

Culinary suggestions: Use in place of red tomatoes, or pair them together or a colorful dish.

Star nutrients: Vitamin C, folate, potassium

Health benefits: May boost immune function and help reduce risk of cancer.

9. Yukon Gold potatoes

Culinary suggestions: Perfect for mashed potatoes. Use in place of white potatoes in any recipe.

Star nutrients: Vitamin C, potassium

Health benefits: May help lower risk of heart attack, stroke and cancer.

RECIPE: STUFFED ACORN SQUASH

4 c cornbread, cubed

3 large acorn squash, halved and seeded

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

2 large onions, thinly sliced

1/2 c finely diced celery with leaves

2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh sage

2 tsp finely chopped garlic

1 1/2 c water or vegetable broth

2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spread cornbread on baking sheet and toast until lightly browned, 15-20 minutes. Transfer to bowl. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F.

Place squash halves cut-side down in two baking dishes. Brush lightly with 1 tsp. of the oil. Pour 1/2-inch boiling water into pans and bake 20 minutes.

Heat remaining oil and add onions, celery, sage and garlic and saute 20 minutes. Add water or broth. Simmer until 2D3 of liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes.

Fold vegetables, parsley, and salt and pepper into cornbread.

Fill squash with stuffing and bake 1 hour.

Makes 12 servings

Nutrition Information Per Serving: 212 calories, 3 grams (g) protein, 33 g carbohydrates, 8 g fat, 4 g dietary fiber, 210 milligrams sodium

Recipe adapted courtesy of American Institute for Cancer Research

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