Colors in your food palette?

Posted: December 08, 2011  |   By:   |   Comments: (0)


What do you notice about this plate?  DO you see the colors that are interspersed throughout the greens?  When you make any dish you want to make sure that it has all sorts of colors in it for a variety of reasons.

#1 Nutrients.  Nearly all fruits and vegetables are low-fat and contain fiber and natural chemicals known as phyto-nutrients that can help protect against heart disease, cancer and age-related cognitive decline, cataracts and macular degeneration.

#2 Colors.  The colors represent 25,000 chemicals that are beneficial. There is evidence that interaction between the colors provides benefits, so it’s important to have a diverse diet and eat different foods. We normally eat three color groups on average in this country.

#3 Sight.  It makes the plate look attractive.  There are studies that show if your food looks appetizing to eat you will consume more of it.  This is the one case that I say to you “Eat all you want” if you are consuming fruits and vegetables in all different colors you will be serving your body well.

Before you read on think about this nearly 1/3 of Americans get 47 percent of their calories from junk food.  These are those tasty treats that you tend to go to when you’re stressed or haven’t planned out your meals.  A basket of corn chips at a Mexican restaurant is 550 calories, two slices of pizza pack a whopping 1,000 calories. It adds up quickly. People forget what they ate yesterday, but it’s like a bank account: your body remembers.

Red Group
(tomatoes, can of V8 juice, pink grapefruit, watermelon)

These contain the carotenoid lycopene, which helps rid the body of free radicals that damage genes. Lycopene seems to protect against prostate cancer as well as heart and lung disease. Processed juices contain a lot of the beneficial ingredients. One glass of tomato juice gives you 50 percent of the recommended lycopene.

Yellow/Green Group
(spinach greens, collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, yellow corn, green peas, avocado, honeydew melon)

These are sources of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. These are believed to reduce the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Lutein is a yellow-green substance that concentrates in the back of your eye. It may also reduce atherosclerosis.

Orange Group
(carrots, mangos, apricots, cantaloupes, pumpkin, acorn squash, winter squash, sweet potatoes) 

These contain alpha carotene, which protects against cancer. They also contain beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A.

It protects the skin against free-radical damage and helps repair damaged DNA. Beta-carotene is also good for night vision. It’s important to note that these beneficial nutrients can be received from other foods, too. For instance vitamin is found in dairy products and meat. But it’s not as beneficial because you get high calories and fat along with it.

Orange/Yellow Group
(pineapple, orange juice, oranges, tangerines, peaches, papayas, nectarines)

These contain beta cryptothanxin, which helps cells in the body communicate and may help prevent heart disease. Also, an orange contains 170 percent of the recommended daily vitamin C. It’s interesting to note that the skin of an orange is high in a protective fat that has been found to kill cancer cells in humans and animals, which highlights the fact that two-thirds of all drugs come from the plant world.

Red/Purple Group
(beets, eggplant, purple grapes, red wine, grape juice, prunes, cranberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, red apples)

These are loaded with powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins believed to protect against heart disease by preventing blood clots. They may also delay the aging of cells in the body. There is some evidence they may help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Green Group
(broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, Chinese cabbage or bok choi, kale)

These contain the chemicals sulforaphane and isocyanate and they also contain indoles, all of which help ward off cancer by inhibiting carcinogens. It’s a fact that ten percent of the population – like George Bush Sr. – doesn’t like broccoli. But it is important in diets because of the beneficial chemicals it contains.

White/Green Group
(leeks, scallions, garlic, onions, celery, pears, white wine, endive, chives)

The onion family contains allicin, which has antitumor properties. Other foods in this group contain antioxidant flavonoids like quercetin and kaempferol.

The last thing I want to debunk is some people out their say that frozen is not as healthy as fresh.   For some instances this can actually be reversed.  It’s convenient and it’s self-empowering, because you don’t really have to throw anything away. I keep a bag of frozen spinach around in case my wife and I don’t want to cook vegetables that night. (I like spinach because I think of it as a super-vegetable.) We just warm it up in the microwave and put pasta sauce on top.  Or frozen strawberries I always have a bag of frozen fruits to add the my Shakeology so I do not have to use ice.

Go gobble up some puples, greens, oranges, and reds this holiday season, just remember to continue to mix it up.

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