What is in colored foods?
Colorful fruits and vegetables contain chemicals classified as phytonutrients. There are no recommended daily allowances for phytonutrients but they may in fact be one of the most important dietary ingredients for animals and humans.
Over 100 of these unique, naturally occurring nutrients are found in fruits and vegetables. They are responsible for the various colors, tastes, and smells of fruits and vegetables. Research suggests that these nutrients are not only powerful antioxidants, but may in fact inhibit certain types of cancer.
What Do Studies Tell Us?
Presently, these health claims are mostly associative. That means that there seems to be some sort of relationship with healthful results but they cannot conclusively be attributed to the phytonutrients. The evidence that the lycopene in tomatoes is a powerful preventative for prostate cancer in men is very compelling.
It will take years of specific research to confirm definitive evidence that these ingredients are responsible for such healthy outcomes and determine the appropriate daily recommendations. But there is no downside for including them in diets in the meantime.
What Foods Contain Phytonutrients?
Raw, colored vegetables are virtually calorie free and agreeable to many dogs. Broccoli, carrots, green, yellow and red peppers, squash, cucumbers and tomatoes contain phytonutrients. Fruits have more calories but satisfy that “sweet-tooth” some dogs crave with fewer calories than cookies and ice cream. Melons, berries, peaches, plums apricots are tasty to some dogs.
I encourage the inclusion of colorful vegetables and fruits in any diet, especially homemade to provide variety and these possibly powerful phytonutrients. Avoid grapes, raisins, garlic and onions due to their potential toxicity to dogs.
I will follow this research and keep you posted. In the meantime break out the doggie fruit and veggie trays!
~Dr. Ken Tudor
THE DOG DIETITIAN