Diet trends come and go. Whether it’s eating only low-carb food, or Sophia Loren’s famous quote: “Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti,” perceptions change constantly about health and diet. The truth is, the two should go together and eating healthy food doesn’t even remotely mean eating boring food.
Studies show that the more colorful foods a person eats, the healthier they are. It’s easy to tell what ingredients are healthy, because good food is beautiful food. From the dietary effects of red vegetables to the boost that an immune system gets from blue food, a diet rich in color is a person’s best bet to stay healthy.
Every color of a vegetable or fruit signifies different health benefits. For protection against cancer – especially prostate cancer – red fruits like strawberries and red vegetables like peppers or tomatoes are helpful because they provide lycopene or anthocyanins. In the case of tomatoes, cooking them with a tiny bit of fat will also boost their cancer fighting properties.
Orange foods such as sweet potatoes, carrots and pumpkins are loaded with beta-carotene. It’s not an old wives’ tale that carrots are good for your eyes. Beta-carotene does help maintain healthy eyes. It can also help reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.
Green foods like spinach, kale, cucumbers, peppers, peas and celery contain lutein. Like beta-carotene, lutein helps to keep eyes healthy and can also reduce the risk of cataracts. Also, leafy greens like spinach, kale and broccoli can help reduce the risk of birth defects and contribute to healthy hair.
Blue foods such as blueberries, blackberries, grapes, figs and raisins are colored by pigments known as “anthocyanins.” Anthocyanins help protect cells from damage, and they may help reduce the risk of cancer, stroke and heart disease.
If you want to lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, look to the white foods. Cauliflower, potatoes, ginger, bananas, onions and parsnips all are good sources of potassium and they contain anthoxanthins, which help promote heart health.
For the best health benefits, combine as many colors as possible. Research indicates that the types of antioxidants listed above tend to work best as a team with each one boosting the others’ effects. But, combining vegetables or fruit is also a simple pleasure. Think of a good chicken stir-fry with peppers, greens, ginger and scallions. Or picture a delicious salsa – with its combination of tomatoes, peppers, onions, lime juice and cilantro. And last but not least, picture a green salad with spinach and bright red strawberries.
Healthy food is delicious, beautiful and it can be a little bit decadent too!