Why Eating Your Colors is Essential
All of the nutrients we need reside in plants, and their vibrant hues are a clue to their healthy components.
We’ve known for centuries that a diet centered around plants is optimum. Hippocrates, the Greek physician considered the father of Western medicine, said, “Let food be your medicine and your medicine be your food.” In his encyclopedia of natural history, published around AD 77, Pliny the elder cites the medicinal properties of hundreds of herbs, spices, fruits, and vegetables. And that’s just in the West. The foundation of traditional Asian diets has been plant foods, which play a significant role in disease prevention. Modern research supports this ancient wisdom, as do our instincts. We know we need to consume more plant foods, and we know plant foods are good for us. But what is it about the color that makes them so healthful? The answer is in the phytochemicals.
Phytochemicals (phyto means “plant”) are manufactured by plants in order to protect themselves from the damage caused by animals or insects, photosynthesis, and bv radiation. When we consume them, they provide the same protection for us that they do for the plant. More than 1,000 different phytochemicals have been identified, and hundreds more are still undiscovered. Although phytochemicals are not technically classified as nutrients, they contain properties associated with disease prevention and treatment, particularly those relating to cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension.
Phytochemicals are easy to identify because they are actually the pigments that give fruits, vegetables, and flowers their distinctive colors. We can detect the highest concentrations of different phytochemicals just by looking at a plant’s shade.
Taste the Rainbow
Blue anthocyanins found in berries have been linked to fighting diseases ranging from cancer and diabetes to bacterial infections. It’s true that noshing on too many orange fruits and veggies can cause skin to develop an apricot hue, but that shouldn’t stop you from buying sweet potatoes and pumpkin in bulk, as their beta-carotene prevents cognitive degeneration. The vibrant, red betacyanins found in amaranth herbs and beets are natural antioxidants and are thought to fight cancer and improve health by combating free radicals in the body. Folate is a naturally occurring vitamin that helps form red blood cells, metabolizes protein, and increases cell growth. To get your folate fill, eat dark, leafy greens and veggies such as spinach. Don’t munch on carrots to improve vision; instead eat lutein-rich foods such as collard greens and kale, which have been linked to improved eyesight and lowered risk of cataract development.
Dull in Color, Not in Nutrients
Just because one color is stronger than another doesn’t mean these foods are void of other phytochemicals; they just occur in lower levels. Bananas, for instance, though yellow in appearance, also contain the blue anthocyanin pigments, but on a smaller scale. This is one of the benefits of eating a variety of plant foods: We’re consuming a number of different phytochemicals.
So, the next time you shop, fill your cart with all the colors of the rainbow (don’t forget white, tan, black, and brown). As a result, you will be eating the most nutrient-rich, flavor-dense, aesthetically exciting diet possible.
Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Linked to "Glowing" Skin
One more reason to eat your fruits and veggies: your skin will look better.
Read More »
Spanish Town Votes to Give Dogs and Cats Human Rights
Companion animals are now considered "non-human residents" with rights under the law.
Read More »
Burger King India Caters to Vegetarians
The chain offers six meat-free sandwiches to cater to the nation's 300 million vegetarians.
Read More »
Federal Court Rules Idaho Ag-Gag Law Unconstitutional
For the first time ever, a court has declared an ag-gag law illegal.
Read More »
Chicago Bears Sign Vegan NFL Player David Carter
"The 300 Pound Vegan" will play as Chicago's defensive lineman.
Read More »
- Export of American Diet Wreaking Havoc on the World
- Jane Birkin: I Don't Want My Name on Your Crocodile Purse
- Long Island's Only Vegan Restaurant Opens Today
- Vegan Company Turns Down Google Buy-Out Offer
- Dear Facebook Friends ...
- Asia Gets First Plant-Based Culinary Academy
- Hain Celestial Group Acquires European Vegan Company
- China's Animal Farms Double as Earthquake Warning Stations
- European Union Dairy Industry in Crisis
- School Nutrition Magazine Filled with Meat and Dairy Ads
- Dairy Industry's New Campaign Targets Millennials
- Google to Offer More Plant-Based Options to Employees
- Factory Farm Poisons Town
- Egg Prices Double Due to Avian Flu Outbreak
- JFK To Open World's First Animal Terminal
- USDA to Label Risky Tenderized Meat
- Japan Whale Meat Consumption Hits 15-Year Low
- New York Times Blown Away by Vegan Ice Cream
- James Beard Foundation Promotes Plant-Heavy Burgers
- New Vegan Game Introduced for Smartphones