- Only about one-third of American women are meeting their fruit and vegetable intake recommendations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And that means they are likely missing out on potentially important breast and ovarian health benefits. Along with vitamins, minerals and fiber, fruits and vegetables contain a type of phytonutrient called carotenoids, which research suggests help support women's health including breast and ovarian health.
Based on a new report called "America's Phytonutrient Report: Women's Health by Color," older women have total carotenoid intakes 20 percent greater than younger women after accounting for differences in caloric intake. Similar to the original "America's Phytonutrient Report: Quantifying the Gap" which found that on average eight out of 10 American adults are falling short on phytonutrient consumption, the new report revealed a troubling shortfall, this time among women and carotenoids.
Carotenoids are compounds that give fruits and vegetables their vibrant colors, which research suggests may offer breast, ovarian and other health benefits for women. Using NHANES energy-adjusted data to compare the diets of women 45 years and older with those younger, the report finds that many women of all ages lack carotenoid-rich foods in their diet, but the relative magnitude of the "carotenoid gap" is greater among women less than 45 years old as compared to older women.
"This points to a troubling phenomenon where younger women may be missing some of the benefits of consuming more carotenoid rich fruits and vegetables, and yet calorie for calorie, older women are eating more of these important nutrients," said Keith Randolph
, Ph.D., Technology Strategist for Nutrilite.
Powering Up Produce
Choosing to increase the amount of the fruit and vegetables richest in carotenoids is important for long-term preventative health among women. While foods like spinach, tomatoes and carrots are certainly part of a healthy diet, there are opportunities for women to choose a wider variety of produce.
"It's concerning that so many American women lack a variety of carotenoid-rich foods in their regular diets," says Amy Hendel
, Nutrilite's Phytonutrient Coach
. "By selecting the most carotenoid-rich produce choices, women can purposefully increase their carotenoid and phytonutrient intakes which can impact health significantly as they age."
Hendel, a registered physician assistant and health/wellness expert, offers these easy substitutions to "power up" your plate and add new flavors to your meal plan:
A serving of cooked kale provides triple the amount of lutein/zeaxanthin as a serving of raw spinach.
A serving of guava delivers more than one and a half times the lycopene in a raw tomato.
A serving of sweet potatoes has nearly double the beta-carotene as a serving of carrots. A serving of carrots delivers four times the amount of alpha-carotene as a serving of winter squash. A serving of fresh papaya has roughly 10 times the beta-cryptoxanthin found in an orange.
Hendel adds, a good goal for most individuals is to consume 10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, with an emphasis on quality, not just quantity. If this proves challenging, consider a natural, plant-based dietary supplement which includes phytonutrients such as carotenoids.
With fall at its peak, the East End is a great place to find fresh, colorful fruits and vegetables. The abundance of farm stands, many of which are organic, offer a variety of options for women who are seeking to add some more color to their diet.
For more information about Nutrilite Nutritional Supplements go to www.nutrilite.com