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.
Green Day and Kat Von D Collaborate on Vegan Eyeliner
Billie Joe Armstrong has teamed with vegan beauty mogul Kat Von D on her upcoming, animal-friendly makeup product.
Read More »
All-You-Can-Eat Vegan Pizza Night Hits Liverpool
Liverpool's Santa Maluco entices diners with unlimited wood-fired vegan pizzas featuring mock duck, vegan cheese, and Big Mac sauce.
Read More »
Danone's New Vegan Brands Drive $760M Profit Spike
The $12.5 billion acquisition of WhiteWave—known for its plant-based brands—proves to be a profitable move for the French yogurt brand.
Read More »
Steakhouse Debuts Vegan Menu to Attract New Diners
Historic New World Inn in Pensacola, Florida will now offer cauliflower steaks, mushroom Reubens, and banana chia-seed pudding at its fine-dining steakhouse restaurant.
Read More »
Vegan Cupcakes Debut at Starbucks
Select South Florida locations of the major coffeehouse will now stock vegan passionfruit cupcakes courtesy of local vegan bakery Bunnie Cakes.
Read More »
- Escaped Brooklyn Bull Rescued by NJ Sanctuary
- Dietitian-Backed Vegan Support Program Debuts in US
- Leonardo DiCaprio Invests in Vegan Brand Beyond Meat
- Boston Celtics' Kyrie Irving Adopts Plant-Based Diet
- Lack of Vegan Menus Top Complaint at UK Hotels
- Vegan Makeup Brand for POC Raises $1 Million
- Natalie Portman Urges Award Show Attendees to Go Vegan
- Vegan Chocolate Hummus Raises $600K on Shark Tank
- Cadbury Heir Launches Vegan Avocado Chocolate Bar
- Meat-Free Apartment Complex to Open in Russia
- Vegan Chickpea Snack Brand Raises $10 Million
- Popular Shoe Brand Launches New Vegan Line
- Grilled Cheese Truck Transforms into Vegan Restaurant
- New Program Rehabilitates Inmates with Vegan Diet
- Major Italian Chain Launches Expansive Vegan Menu
- Spanish Company Invents Diet Avocado
- 24-Hour Vegan Vending Machine Lands in Melbourne
- Plant-Based Foods Slated to Be Mega-Trend of 2018
- Ryan Gosling Rocks Custom Vegan Coat in Blade Runner
- Sales at Vegan Treats Spike Thanks to Jon Stewart