“Not dressing up the meal with color is like sending someone out of the house without clothes” – Japanese proverb
I remember sitting down on one particular night years ago to a heaping plate of bread, noodles, mashed potatoes, and vanilla ice cream. (It was after football practice and I was starving. Lay off). I stared down at the perfectly white plate and thought to myself, “This just looks wrong.” It was. As a rule, avoid white carbohydrates – they will make you fat.
Not only does adding color to your food make your meal more attractive, but it also leads one to seek out fruits and vegetables loaded with healthy and filling fiber and relatively low in calories. A recent study found that although sampled Chinese adults ate about 30% more than the average American, they weighed about 25% less. The main reason: Chinese diets include a healthy smattering of colorful, plant-based foods.
Try to eat a rainbow of colors in you foods every day. The majority of bright, deeply colored fruits and vegetables contain high levels of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, with different colors providing different benefits.
So what are the health benefits of different-colored foods?
Many red foods contain lycopene, which prevents diseases such as prostate cancer. Anthocyanin provides a rich reddish color and promotes a healthy heart.
Red foods: tomatoes, watermelon, beets, cranberries, apples, cherries, raspberries, strawberries, spaghetti sauce, red beans, radishes, red carrots, red-skinned potatoes, red peppers, grapefruit, guava, blood oranges, red onions, pomegranates, rhubarb, red pears
Orange foods are rich in beta carotene which is known to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer; maintain good vision; and boost the immune system.
Orange foods: cantaloupe, carrots, apricots, butternut squash, peaches, pumpkins, sweet potatoes
Yellow lentils are packed-full of cancer-fighting phytochemicals.
Yellow foods: butternut squash, mangos, peaches, sweet potatoes
Greens are packed full of magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, vitamins A, C, E and K, which strengthen your blood and respiratory systems. Don’t limit yourself to boring and nearly non-nutritive iceberg lettuce, be adventurous! “Branch”out to kale, red cabbage, mustard greens, and collard greens. Most green vegetables contain both beta carotene and lutein, which help to maintain good vision, reduce the risk of macular degeneration, and prevent cataracts and colon cancer.
Look at all these green foods: Leeks, Lettuce, Green onion, Okra, Peas, Green pepper, Snow Peas, Honeydew, Kiwi, Limes, apples, Green grapes, Green pears, Artichokes, Arugula, Asparagus, Broccoflower, Broccoli, Broccoli rabe, Brussels sprouts, Chinese cabbage, Green beans, Green cabbage, Celery, Chayote, Cucumbers, Endive, Leafy greens, Sugar snap peas, Spinach, Watercress, Zucchini, Avocado, and my personal favorite, Kale.
Blueberries contain a variety of anthocyanins, which fight oxidation and them that unique blue color which is rarely found in nature.
Blue foods: blueberries. And blue jolly ranchers. <– No, not really.
Purple fruits and vegetables contain healthy antioxidants which have anti-aging benefits.
Purple foods: grapes, eggplant, plums, prunes, raisins, Purple figs, Purple cabbage, Purple grapes, Purple asparagus, Purple carrots
Yes, some white-colored foods are healthy. Some white vegetables contain phytochemicals including allicin, found in the garlic and onion family and may help with the cardiovascular system. The mineral selenium is found in white mushrooms.
White foods: Cauliflower, Garlic, Ginger, White nectarines, White peaches, Mushrooms, Onions, Parsnips, Potatoes (white fleshed), Shallots, Turnips, White Corn, Radishes
No, Skittles don’t count. And there’s no such thing as blue raspberry…
So eat more colors, feel more full, and burn more fat.
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