If you are trying to be a healthy eater, you may already pay attention to vitamins, minerals and the basic food groups. It may surprise you to learn that many experts on healthy diets also recommend paying attention to the color of your food.
Where I live, every Friday is Fish Fry day. Many of the restaurants in town offer "Fish Fry" on Fridays, and, it sees, almost everyone eats Fish Fry on that day.
"Fish Fry" is almost always a dinner of fried fish, baked potato with sour cream, and cole slaw. Something started bothering me about the Fish Fry plate, and in time I realized it was the color of the selections: the fish was white (on the inside), the potato was white, the sour cream was white, and so was the cole slaw . There was no color variety on the plate!
The colors in many plant foods are often provided by substances known as phytonutrients. Scientists have determined that these phytonutrients have many health bestowing properties. Many researchers now suggest that we can improve our health, possibly significantly, by eating a diet rich in colorful plant foods. They even suggest that in order to eat healthy, we try to include every color of the rainbow in our daily diet.
What are these colors? In school we learned ROYGBIV-red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. The idea for good nutrition is to eat a diet that falls across this range every day.
RED plant foods contain lycopene. Lycopene appears to rid the body of free radicals, which are known to harm genes. Lycopene may help protect against prostate and breast cancer, and also lung and heart disease.
RED plant foods include tomatoes, guava, rosehip, watermelon and pink grapefruit.
YELLOW / ORANGE plant foods contain alpha and beta caratene, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin. These substance are important for heart and eye health.
YELLOW / ORANGE plant foods include pumpkin, carrots, canteloupe, apricots, sweet potatoes, and winter squash.
GREEN plant foods can have sulforaphane, isocyanate and indoles which protect cells and may help fight cancer growth, as well ascatechins and quercetin that may help the heart.
GREEN plant foods include spinach, broccoli, cabbage, peas, avocado, kiwi, brussels sprouts, as well as herbs such as oregano, dill and parsley.
RED / PURPLE plant foods contain anthocyanins which help with blood flow, and may slow the aging of cells
RED / PURPLE foods include beets, blackberries, blueberries, currants, cherry, eggplant, and grape juice.
So how about that fish fry? Go ahead with the fish, with some lemon (Yellow) for flavor, and include a spinach (Green) salad, and switch from a white baked potato to a sweet potato (Orange). Be sure to include the other color groups during the course of the day for best nutrition.
By eating a range of deeply colored foods from across the rainbow spectrum, we can maximize the health benefit of the foods we eat.
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