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Garden Vegetables: A Kaleidoscope of Health

November 20th, 2010

 

Fruits and vegetables come in all shades of vibrant colors—green, orange, red, yellow and more—that will make your plate and palette pop. But did you know that each color offers health benefits as well?

Plants contain phytochemicals which protect them from things like UV rays and garden villains. These same phytochemicals help boost our immune system when consumed and have been shown to act as free radical scavengers. Here is a short list of vegetables with some of their benefits.

- Tomatoes and red bell peppers: their bright red color comes from lycopene, a carotene and caratenoid pigment. Lycopene has been considered a potential agent for prevention of some types of cancer, such as prostate cancer.

- Carrots and winter squash: their vibrant orange color comes from beta carotene, which can be converted to active vitamin A. The phytochemicals found in orange and yellow vegetables may help lower the risk of some forms of cancer, as well as help vision and heart and immune systems.

- Broccoli: its green comes from indole-3 carbinol (I3C), a compound that occurs naturally in broccoli and other green vegetables such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, turnips, and more. I3C has been shown to inhibit the development of cancers of the breast, colon, liver, lung and stomach in some animals.

- Eggplant: it’s chock-full of anthocyanins, water-soluble vacuolar pigments that belong to the parent class of molecules called flavonoids. These anthocyanins have been shown to protect cell membranes from damage.

So much potential in small packages! The next time you eat your favorite fruit or vegetable look at its color and think about the health benefits that may come from eating it. There’s so much to appreciate and more there than meets the eye!

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Colony Collapse Disorder and Vanishing of the Bees

August 24th, 2010

If you know anything about bees, then you’re probably familiar with Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Colony Collapse Disorder is an unusual phenomenon where bees abandon their hives, never to return.

What is frightening about CCD is that we’re not talking about a few thousand bees here or there. Just in the winter of 2006/2007, tens of billions of bees—more than a quarter of the United States’ bee colonies—were lost to CCD, and since then, more than three million bee colonies have disappeared.

When you think about the number of bee colonies that have been lost to CCD then wonder how our agricultural crops will be pollinated should this problem worsen, it’s hard not to think the word “catastrophic.”

In estimation, insects pollinate one third of the human food supply, most of which is pollinated by bees. In case you need a pollination refresher: Bees land on a flower to eat nectar and pollen. While on the flower, the bee will stuff powdery pollen into little sacks on the back of her legs. When the bee flies to another flower, some of the dusty pollen falls off her legs onto the new flower she’s landed on, thus beginning the plant pollination process (fertilization and sexual reproduction). Pollination is vital, because fruiting of a plant is dependent on fertilization.

Imagine the catastrophic consequences if crops such as apples, asparagus, avocados, broccoli, blueberries, cantaloupe, celery, citrus, cucumbers, nuts, peaches, and more were unable to fruit, due to lack of pollination, due to the lack of bees. It’s a very scary thought.

We’ve uprooted a very real bee movie that we hope everyone will get the opportunity to watch: Vanishing of the Bees. Check out the trailer.

http://www.vanishingbees.com/

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