By Katie Cavuto, M.S., R.D., EatingWell.com
Don’t judge a vegetable by its color alone. Vibrant fruits and vegetables have standout appeal, but recommendations to “eat the rainbow” can exclude one underappreciated category: white fruits and vegetables. These boast a variety of flavors and noteworthy nutrition accolades, according to research published in Advances in Nutrition. The researchers pointed out that many nutrients — including several that Americans don’t get enough of — and good-for-you phytochemicals that give fruits and veggies their health benefits are not always colorful.
Rich in the antioxidant quercetin, onions may ease hay fever, eczema and food allergies, according to Japanese researchers. Add chopped onions to salads, saute briefly and add to soups, sauces or stews, or roast alongside winter vegetables. Pickled onions are quick to make and keep well in the fridge, making them a good choice for an impromptu burger night or whenever you could use a hit of briny-sweet flavor.
Best known for their cancer-fighting properties as members of the cruciferous vegetable family, turnips are also high in nitrate, which may decrease blood pressure. Make a turnip-and sweet-potato mash, add turnips to stews, turn them into a creamy pureed soup or quickly pickle them and serve them on a cheese plate.
Cauliflower is at the forefront of cancer research. One compound from this cruciferous veggie killed 75 percent of cervical cancer stem cells in 24 hours, in a lab. Roast whole cauliflower, or chop it and add the florets to a salad. You can also saute it and add to soup, or steam and puree it to make a stand-in for mashed potatoes.
Potatoes are a potassium powerhouse, more so than broccoli, spinach or even bananas. Research has found that potassium may help keep your bones strong. Endlessly versatile, potatoes can be roasted, baked, sauteed, shredded or mashed with a variety of herbs, spices and flavors.
Pears may help manage prediabetes. Lab tests show that pear antioxidants prevent rapid carb digestion that could cause blood-sugar spikes. Use raw pears to sweeten a bitter salad, poach them for an easy, fruit-based dessert, or simply eat them straight out of hand when they’re ripe and in season.
The solution to new antibiotic-resistant strains of germs could be an old natural remedy: garlic. A 2014 study showed that, in the lab, garlic extract may be able to treat multidrug-resistant bacteria. Garlic is a staple in Mediterranean cooking, but can give great flavor to a variety of dishes. Roast a whole head, or mince finely and use in recipes from soups to salads, casseroles to frittatas.
(EatingWell is a magazine and website devoted to healthy eating as a way of life. Online at www.eatingwell.com.)