Saturday, January 7, 2012

Eat the Rainbow

Food Palette
            As simple as it seems, colorful fruits and vegetables benefit our health if color-coordinated with our diets. It’s fun to imagine your dinner plate as a painter’s palette where the following foods add nutrition as well as color.
White foods such as bananas, cauliflower and garlic lower heart disease risk. They also lower LDL cholesterol, so think of mushrooms, pears and onions as well as those listed earlier when you shop.
Blues and purples keep memory sharp and reduce risk of several types of cancer including prostate. Plums, eggplant, blueberries, blackberries, purple grapes and raisins are among this color family. All colors of berries are low on the glycemic scale and high in antioxidants and fiber. Fiber helps control blood sugar, and also removes cholesterol from the body. It has been called nature’s broom.
Continuing around the color wheel, greens protect bones, teeth and eyesight. Kiwi, spinach, broccoli, romaine lettuce, Brussels sprouts and green cabbage are the heroes here. Spinach contains neoxanthin and kaempferol which are “Kryptonite” to cancer cells. Avocado is rich in potassium, fiber and B vitamins.
Watermelons, strawberries, red apples, cherries, raspberries, cranberries, tomatoes and radishes, all lovely reds, help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and improve blood flow to the heart. Red kidney beans have a high oxygen radical absorption capacity.
The sunshine colors of yellow and orange boost the immune system and may prevent eye disease. Oranges, grapefruit, peaches, cantaloupe, mangoes, pineapple, squash, carrots and corn complete the palette of healthful foods. All contain vitamin C which helps with immunity and wound healing. Orange carrots and yellow squash contain lutein which is important for good vision, but also may prevent or delay atherosclerosis, the thickening of arteries, which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
The new year inspires us to replace unhealthy habits with better ones. Perhaps including more colorful foods on our plates is more than an artist’s delight.

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