We have been told our whole lives to “eat our vegetables” so that we would grow up to be big and strong! But science today has shown that eating a healthy diet is about more than physical appearance. Research is showing that there is a connection between our physical AND MENTAL health, and our diet. It has been shown that variety and color in your fruits and vegetables is a true key to good health.
And nature has made this easier than you would imagine….. Different nutrients create different colors in foods they are in, so while it is good to know WHY each different color family is good for you, what is really important to remember is that you need to be eating from ALL of these color families.
Basically there are 5 colors that you need to be eating every day for a good dietary base. They are: Red, Orange and Yellow, Green, Blue and Purple, and White
Red – (apples, watermelon, strawberries, red grapes, raspberries, beets, red potatoes, radishes, tomatoes, and kidney beans) the pigment red is called “lycopene” or “anthocyanin”. These have been found to reduce risk of some cancers because they protect our cells from damage. Several of these are also high in Vitamin C, which helps prevent illness and boosts our immune system.
Orange/Yellow (carrots, sweet potatoes, oranges, lemons, peaches, pineapple, pumpkin, squash, papaya, orange bell pepper) Alpha and beta carotene give these fruits and vegetables their brilliant Orange color. They body converts these compounds into an active form of Vitamin A, which is important for the health of our eyes, skin, hair and mucous membranes. These phytochemicals also operate as antioxidants, which help reduce free radicals in your body, helping you to fight off diseases. If you need to improve your ability to learn and remember….think Orange.
Green (Broccoli, Kale, Brussels sprouts, Green apples, green grapes, zucchini, lettuce, spinach, avocadoes) Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and kale. Amp up the production of enzymes that clear toxins from the body, which may help prevent cancer. Other greens contain high amounts of phytochemicals which are good for eye sight and a healthy heart.
Blue/Purple (purple grapes, plums, blackberries, blueberries, raisings, eggplant, red onion) These blue and purple foods have powerful antioxidant properties that may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. They can help protect our cells from damage, and keep our brain healthy and have anti-inflammatory properties. They can help us feel younger and aid in our thinking and learning.
White (bananas, cauliflower, garlic, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, parsnips, pears, cucumber) These vegetables are high in dietary fiber. They are colored by the pigments “anthoxanthins” and may help lower cholesterol, blood pressure and decrease the risk of heart disease and stomach cancer. Some such as potatoes and bananas are very high in potassium. A group of Dutch researchers published as study that found that people with a high intake of white fruits and vegetables had a lowered risk of stroke.
This may seem complicated, but it really is easy. Look at your dinner plate. If it is full of natural color, it is good. If not, make some small changes to incorporate more of these colorful foods into your diet. If you find that difficult to do, talk to Dr. Tyjeski about some supplements to help support a nutritious lifestyle.