52 CAN DOs Tip #4: “What Color is my Food?”

52 CAN DOs Tip #4: "What Color is my Food?"

When I think of the holiday season I think of colors — beautiful orange, vibrant red, gold and blue leaves that blanket the streets…dark green spruce trees, candy colored lights and ornaments –but think for a moment…what if the colors of the food on our plate were just as beautiful and vibrant…wouldn’t we be too? After all, you are what you eat, right?

The pigment in vegetables and fruits contain plant based chemicals (antioxidants) that fight cancer causing free radicals in the body. Some of these antioxidants in the form of flavonoids, chlorophylls and carotenoids are not only responsible for the pigment color in plants but also helps boost the immune system—especially critical during seasonal transitions like spring and Fall when your body craves certain foods that naturally prepare it for the hot or cold season.

Eating plant based colorful, seasonal, local foods will help keep your body in a healthier, more homeostatic (balanced) state.

Color me healthy!

Green vegetables and fruits contain chlorophyll (also known as the “blood of plants”) because it is the foundation of all plant life, and makes the vegetables look green.  The oxygen in chlorophyll engulfs the cells to destroy free radicals and its fiber and calcium content (kale contains more calcium than milk!) turns many green foods into “super foods”.  If all of this were not enough to convince you green foods are a worthy companion to your daily plate, TheGlobalHealingCenter.com reports a recent study conducted in 2013 that determined the chlorophyll in plants might help suppress hunger and stabilize stable blood sugar levels which can lead to weight loss.

Green vegetables and fruits contain chlorophyll (also known as the “blood of plants”) because it is the foundation of all plant life, and makes the vegetables look green.

 

Blue and purple – Blueberries, blue grapes and plums contain lutein, zeaxanthin, which are excellent nutrients for healthy vision.  Prunes, which have a bluish, purple-ish color might be the healthiest of all according to a Tufts University study in Boston that “ranked prunes, or dried plums, as #1 food in terms of antioxidant capacity” [http://healwithfood.org/health-benefits/prunes]. There you have it. Prune not only keep you regular, they fight cancer too!

Yellow and orange – Carrots, pumpkin, and squash contain Beta-carotene that is converted in the body to Vitamin A to help protect against macular degeneration, and is great for skin, teeth and overall immunity.

Red – Tomatoes, watermelon, red peppers contain lycopene (which gives tomatoes and other foods their deep rich color), quercetin and a variety of important nutrients that help reduce the risk of cancer, stroke, and high blood pressure.

How to get more color on your plate?

One strategy to eat with more color on your plate is to challenge yourself to consume at least 3 different colors on your plate at each meal. Remember to give thanks for all the colors represented and for the variety of nutrients that will provide healing to your body. Another strategy; at the supermarket, choose at least 1 fruit or vegetable that you are NOT familiar with or have never eaten before, every week for a month. Learn how to prepare it utilizing the limitless easy recipe resources on the internet. Who knows, you might just discover you love Kai-Lan “Chinese broccoli”. Bon a petit’!

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Monifa Maat is a certified fitness expert, nutrition activist and author of Bed Aerobics Fitness Flow™. Her mission is to inspire people to adopt simple, sustainable healthy habits that reduce chronic lifestyle diseases associated with obesity, heart disease, diabetes and stroke.