When it comes to the typical American diet, most of us seem to be choosing the color tan. Processed foods tend to come in various shades of brown. Meats, cereals, fried foods, breads and baked goods, granola bars and many candy bars, pastas, French fries – all tan. The problem is we’ve all gotten used to these choices being the standard color in our diet, and they mostly represent a dearth of nutritional value and a whole lot of ingredients that may harm our health. The reason you should eat a rainbow of colors daily is that the different colors represent different phytonutrients and antioxidants, which are compounds that offer health benefits.
Green fruits and vegetables contain the antioxidants lutein and indoles, which promote healthy vision. Leafy greens like kale, collards and arugula offer calcium. Kiwis, broccoli and peas are good sources of vitamin C.
Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables contain zeaxanthin, flavonoids, lycopene, potassium, vitamin C and beta-carotene (vitamin A). These support eye health, low blood pressure, they help reduce levels of the bad cholesterol (LDL), promote healthy joints, collagen formation, and help to boost the body’s immune system.
Deep red and bright pink fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, watermelon, guava and pink grapefruits contain lycopene, which can also help to fight the risk of certain cancers, like prostate cancer. Strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, red cherries, red cabbage, red onions and beets contain anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that have been associated with helping to control high blood pressure and helping to protect against diabetes-related circulatory issues.
White vegetables have some unique qualities as well. Cauliflower, a cruciferous vegetable, contains sulfur compounds associated with fighting cancer, strengthening bone tissue, and helping to maintain healthy blood vessels. Garlic with its active chemical, allicin, can help to build your immune system. The white potato is filled with fiber and potassium as well as vitamin C, B6 and magnesium. Just don’t fry itThere’s a vast choice of** purple fruits and vegetables**. Consider blueberries, plums, purple figs, raisins, purple grapes, black currants as well as black olives, purple carrots, eggplant, purple Belgian endive and purple cabbage. These fruits and vegetables have compounds associated with lowering the risk of high blood pressure and people who eat this color on a regular basis are more likely to have better levels of good cholesterol (HDL).
In some cases, a tan color is a good thing. Brown pears, dates, mushrooms, brown onions and parsnips all contain beneficial nutrients that can promote heart health and reduce cancer risk. Your goal should be to consume fruits and vegetables at every meal and snack, and to make sure you are eating a broad range of colors daily. If you do eat the skin, then it may be beneficial to buy organic when it comes to those specific choices. You can learn about the dirty dozen, a list of fruits and vegetables which have a heavier load of pesticides. Choose to embrace the daily habit of consuming fruits and vegetable to boost your health, and bump mostly tan foods out of your life!
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Known as The HealthGal, expert contributor Amy Hendel is a popular medical and lifestyle reporter, nutrition and fitness expert, columnist, and brand ambassador, as well as a health coach. Trained as a physician assistant, she maintains a health coach private practice in New York and Los Angeles. Author of The Four Habits of Healthy Families, you can find her on Twitter @HealthGal1103 and on Facebook at TheHealthGal. Her personal mantra is “Fix it first with food, fitness, and lifestyle.”