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Paint Your Food Colorful

Why Is Color Important In Your Food – #3 Nutrition In Menopause Series

 

Color is important in your food.

Color guides bees to flowers.

Color brings joy to life.

 

When you think about good nutrition, you should think about a colorful plate.

Look to cook with reds, greens, purples, yellows, orange, and all shades in between.

Eat all the colors of the rainbow!

Colors in food indicate the presence of nutrients that are essential to the health and wellbeing of our bodies. These are called phytochemicals and phytonutrients, both substances produced by plants.

When you eat a diet rich in these nutrients, you are likely to have a lower probability of heart disease and cancer.

Most color in food comes from fruits and vegetables, which are also a great source for fiber which helps prevent constipation and is an important element in keeping cholesterol levels down.

Let us look at the range of colors in food and what they indicate:

 

1- Purple:

Many vegetables are of the purple or blue variety. These include eggplant (aubergine), purple cauliflower, turnips, purple cabbage, rhubarb. Some fruits are also part of this group, such as blackberries, blueberries, plums, grapes, and figs.

What gives these foods their purple color is a phytonutrient called anthocyanin. Studies have shown that anthocyanins may benefit brain health and improve memory, help lower inflammation, and fight cancer and heart disease.

 

2- Green:

Examples of green vegetables are Swiss chard, spinach, lettuce, celery, watercress, asparagus, peas, broccoli, and green peppers. Fruits include kiwi, avocado (Yes, avocado is a fruit!), green figs, green olives, green apples, green grapes.

Green fruits and vegetables are loaded with important vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, folate, and phytochemicals and fiber. They are a great source of iron, particularly dark green vegetables like spinach and swiss chard.

Your mom was right.. eating your greens is good for you!

Color is important in your food.

3- Yellow

Some of the yellow fruits are bananas, lemons, pineapple, yellow peppers, corn, yellow apples, star fruit, melon, pear, quince, mango, grapefruit, and others.

Yellow fruits and vegetables contain a phytochemical that is sometimes referred to as Vitamin P. This is a bio-flavonoid that helps in the breakdown of vitamin C in the body making it more available to your cells. Vitamin C is essential for cell replenishment.

These yellow fruits and vegetables also contain carotenoids which is the pigment that gives them this specific color. They are rich in retinol, a type of vitamin A that helps to keep skin healthy and even reverse damage to the skin.

 

4-Orange

Some orange vegetables are carrots, pumpkin, squash, sweet potatoes, orange peppers.

Fruits include peaches, oranges, tangerines, mangoes, papaya, among others.

The orange color in these fruits and vegetables comes from beta-carotene, a form of vitamin A. It is great for eyesight and combating free radicals in the body. There is even some evidence that beta carotene slows cognitive decline and may help in maintaining good lungs in old age.

However, please be careful in taking beta-carotene supplements because if taken excessively, it can have negative effects, particularly if taken with certain drugs, including statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs) and mineral oil.

An interesting fact is that papaya is known for its ability to prevent nausea, morning and motion sickness when you drink it in juice form!

 

5- Red

Vegetables such as red cabbage, red peppers, beetroot, radish, red chili peppers, and rhubarb.

Fruits include tomatoes (yup.. another fruit!), especially cooked tomato products, cherries, watermelon, raspberries, pomegranates, red grapes, and strawberries.

Red fruits and vegetables are among the highest in vitamin C. An interesting fact is that a one-half cup serving of red pepper provides 25% more vitamin C than a medium orange!

The red pigment in red foods indicates that they contain antioxidants that reduce the risk of plaque developing in arteries, high blood pressure, and cholesterol. They also lower the risk of developing certain types of cancer, protect against heart diseases, and improve brain function.

Tomatoes are rich in lutein and lycopene, which are important for eyesight. However, to get the full benefit of eating tomatoes, they are best eaten cooked as cooking releases their cancer-fighting antioxidants. According to Scientific American, the heat can break down some tougher cell walls in the plant, making it easier for the body to absorb its nutrients.

Color is important in your food.

6-White

Other vegetables that come in white varieties include garlic, onions, leeks, cauliflower, asparagus, kohlrabi, radishes, Napa cabbage, squash, fennel, and turnips.

White vegetables are obviously not as colorful as others, but they can be highly nutritious. Garlic and onions contain antioxidants called polyphenols, which are extremely beneficial in reducing chronic inflammation.

White beans are an excellent source of protein and fiber as well as B-vitamin, potassium, and iron.

Cauliflower and turnips contain compounds that can protect against cancer.

 

No one food, or food color, is the magic formula. The key to healthy eating is eating colorfully. Each type and color of food gives your body something different. It is a jigsaw puzzle of health, so you need all parts to make the picture complete.

Make your plate a colorful palette. Variety is the source of health. Mix it up, try new recipes, and make a conscious effort to bring color into your kitchen.

 

For other tips about good nutrition in menopause, click here.

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