We eat with our eyes first, don’t we? God made food attractive so we would choose to eat what’s good for us. As you walk into the produce section of your grocery store, you can’t help but notice the beautiful vegetable colors and fruits. It’s like a painter’s palette with its rich display of color. Green, red, yellow, purple and orange, with some of those variegated together. It’s a pretty fresh looking sight, but did you know that the colors of your acid/alkaline vegetables and fruits are important to your health. Let’s learn how you can benefit from adding color to your diet.
Add Color and Balance to Your Alkaline Diet
Vegetable colors and color of fruit have unique health properties that are essential when it comes to your health and wellness. For example, blue and purple fruits or vegetables (like blueberries and eggplant) contain natural pigments called anthocyanidin. Anthocyanidin acts as an antioxidant, helping to protect your body from free-radical damage.
An anthocyanidin is a sugarless plant pigment, usually red or blue or variations on those colors, that has antioxidant, antiplatelet, and wound-healing properties. Anthocyanidins are a type of flavonoid, a potent substance with antioxidant activity, which may help fight heart disease and cancer.
Red colored vegetables and fruits such as tomatoes, beets, apples, red peppers, radishes and more get their color from something called “lycopene.” Lycopene is an antioxidant compound and has been considered a potential agent for prevention of some types of cancers.
According to the American Cancer Society, “Studies suggest that diets rich in tomatoes may account for this reduction in risk. Evidence is strongest for lycopene’s protective effect against cancer of the lung, stomach, and prostate. It may also help to protect against cancer of the cervix, breast, mouth, pancreas, esophagus, and colon and rectum.”
Orange and yellow foods such as sweet potatoes, pumpkins, carrots, pineapple, tangerines, etc. are usually colored by pigments calls carotenoids. There are many members in the carotenoid family – some of them are known as “pro-vitamin A” compounds because your body can convert them into Vitamin A. The most common pro-vitamin A compound found in fruit and vegetables is beta-carotene. These carotenoids not only give your immune system a boost, but will provide a source of anti-oxidants and help promote proper cell communication.
Green foods like kale, spinach, zucchini, and asparagus are rich in what’s known as chlorophyll. Chlorophyll helps fight off infection in the body, helps heal wounds, and works to keep the immune system strong! It can also promote digestive and circulatory health as well as promote an acidic/alkaline pH balance in your body.
Phytonutrients and Vegetable Colors
Phytonutrients are very important to your health balance. Phyto means “plant”, phytonutrients, also called phytochemicals come from plants. It’s generally well known that people who consume a lot of organic vegetables are healthier than those who don’t.
The phytonutrients that are good for us produce bright colors in vegetables and fruits. It’s also important to understand that each of these foods contain many different phytonutrients that can take care of different oxidation reactions (free radicals) in our cells. Each of those phytonutrients probably has a slightly different effect in our bodies. This is why it is important to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Some of the phytonutrient rich foods are: tea, berries, plums (and prunes), oranges, purple grapes (and raisins), cherries, kiwi fruit, pink grapefruit, dark green leafies like spinach and kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, beets, tomatoes, red pepper, and dark chocolate (not milk chocolate).
The Phytonutrient Family
Including carotenes, limonoids, saponins, leutins, lycopene, tocopherols
Benefits: Activates the body’s protective enzymes in the liver, antioxidant, modify hormones, block cholesterol absorption, protect eyes, repair DNA
Food Nutrition Source: Colorful fruits and vegetables, citrus peel, beans, grains, legumes, nuts, herbs including chamomile and ginseng. Colors: Reds, yellows and greens are the colors that predominate this phytonutrient group.
Including polyphenols, anthocyanidins, catcechins, isoflavones, flavonoids, lignons and tanins.
Benefits: Protects against heart and vascular diseases, protects against colon cancer, modifies hormone activity, antioxidant, antimicrobial.
Food Nutrition Source: Berries, grapes, red wine, soy foods, green tea, dark chocolate, leafy greens, red cabbage, Eggplant. Colors: Reds and blue are the predominant color in this phytonutrient group.
Includes, isothiocyanates, allician, sulforaphane and indoles.
Benefits: Boosts cancer fighting enzymes, blocks mutation, inhibits cholesterol production. May lower blood pressure; Antitumor activity, detoxifier, cardiovascular risk reducer and immune system booster.
Food Nutrition Source: Onion family, cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, mustard family. These are the palest colors of the phyto containing foods.
So go ahead eat your colors by adding more color to your diet. Incorporate fruits and vegetables when you can and try to stay away from colorless food like simple carbohydrates, sugar, and other unhealthy food that make your body go “Yuck!”