Open Your Eyes to Yellow Vegetables

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.

—Judith C. Thalheimer, RD, LDN

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

½ c finely diced celery with leaves

2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh sage

2 tsp finely chopped garlic

1½ c water or vegetable broth

2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Spread cornbread on baking sheet and toast until lightly browned, 15-20 minutes. Transfer to bowl. Reduce heat to 350° F.
  2. Place squash halves cut-side down in two baking dishes. Brush lightly with 1 tsp of the oil. Pour ½-inch boiling wa-ter into pans and bake 20 minutes.
  3. Heat remaining oil and add onions, celery, sage and garlic and sauté 20 minutes. Add water or broth. Simmer until 2⁄3 of liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes.
  4. Fold vegetables, parsley, and salt and pepper into cornbread.
  5. 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 mil-ligrams sodium

Recipe adapted courtesy of American Institute for Cancer Research

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