Don’t Forget About the White Foods!

I will finish up my series on eating the colors of the rainbow with the easy to forget white foods. White fruits and vegetables contain fiber, vitamins, and phytochemicals that promote heart health; help maintain healthful cholesterol levels and slow cholesterol absorption, and lower the risk of certain cancers such as breast and lung.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms

Members of the white group include garlic, onions, shallots, mushrooms, cauliflower, white asparagus, plantains, parsnips, tan pears, potatoes, white corn, white eggplant, kohlrabi, white peaches, fennel, tan figs, celery root, white tea and water chestnuts.

The best kind of cauliflower... organic and on sale!

The best kind of cauliflower… organic and on sale!

Onions contain the flavonoid quercetin which has anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anticancer properties.  Quercetin is used to treat allergies and asthma.

IMG_0314Garlic also has anticancer benefits.  It inhibits the formation of nitrosamines, which are compounds formed during digestion that are cancer-causing.  Garlic also has antimicrobial activity against not only bacteria and viruses but also fungi and parasites.  Garlic has cholesterol-lowering activity and can even lower blood pressure and prevent blood clots.

Tea and spices in India

Tea and spices in India

White tea is different from its counterparts since black tea is fully fermented and green tea is partly fermented while white tea is not fermented at all.  This means it contains even more cancer fighting antioxidants than green tea. So don’t forget about the healthy white choices when eating a variety of colors in your diet!

Eat Your Greens!

Everyone knows eating your greens is good for you!  Why?  Green fruits and vegetables contain nutrients that lower the risk of breast, prostate, lung, and other cancers.  They also promote eye health, boost immunity, and help to build strong bones.  Typically, the more dark and rich colored the food, the more nutrient-packed it is (think kale and spinach). 

greenExamples of greens you can easily find in your local grocery store are:  swiss chard, green pears, kiwis, parsley, cucumber, kale, romaine lettuce, cilantro, zucchini, green pepper, celery, broccoli, leek, artichokes, asparagus, endive, limes, peas, watercress, arugula, avocados, green beans, green chiles, green grapes, okra, green apples, green tea, and bok choy.

Some green foods are rich in lutein.  Lutein reduces the risk of macular degeneration (the leading cause of blindness in older individuals) and may protect the lens of the eye from sunlight damage.

brocolliCruciferous vegetables contain more phytonutrients with cancer fighting properties than any other family of vegetables.

Green tea is a potent antioxidant that helps repair damaged DNA.  It contains polyphenols which reduce the risk of stomach, small intestine, colon, pancreatic, lung, and breast cancers.  Green tea also activates your liver’s detoxification which helps defend your body against such things as cancer.

 

mint tea

mint tea

For optimal health, you should consume all seven colors of the phytonutrient rainbow everyday – red, orange, purple, yellow, green, blue, and white.  Next week I will finish up my series on eating the rainbow and discuss the importance of white foods.

 

Orange and Yellow Foods

Bright colors such as yellow and orange can be mood boosters.  Yellow represents happiness, joy, and hope.  Orange combines the happiness of yellow with the energy of red.  Examples include: oranges, spaghetti squash, butternut squash, pumpkin, Yukon gold potatoes, sweet potatoes, lemon, Asian pears, yellow apples, carrots, bananas, yellow onions, parsnips, golden raspberries, golden beets, pineapples, yellow and orange peppers, corn, and ginger.

tinas-pharm-ORANGE-food2Yellow and orange foods receive their hues from carotenes, important antioxidants that give these fruits and vegetables their vitamin A.  Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C and protect us against free radical damage, strengthen blood vessels, and maintain collagen which forms tendons, cartilage, and ligaments.  Citrus fruits help prevent allergies, inflammation, bruising, hemorrhoids, and varicose and spider veins.  Vitamin C supports a healthy immune system, heart, vision, and digestion.  Beta carotene is a well-known carotenoid, found in yellow and orange foods, that helps improve vision, fight cancer and pump up the immune system.

carrotsBananas may reduce arterial plaque formation, prevent strokes, and protect against colon cancer.  Along with vitamins A and C, pineapples contain bromelain – an anti-inflammatory enzyme that also aids in digestion.  Sweet potatoes are high in fiber and contain more beta-carotene than any other vegetable.

IMG_1094

Blue and Purple Foods

Let’s continue to eat the colors of the rainbow with a focus on blue and purple foods today.  Some examples are cabbage, acai, purple tipped turnips, grapes, eggplant, blueberries, raisins, baby lettuce, prunes, fig, and black currants, plums, purple-tipped Belgian endive, blackberries, purple carrots, blue potatoes, purple bell peppers (which I experienced for the first time at a farmer’s market in Austin,  yum!).  Using these variations of carrots, potatoes and bell peppers can really spice up a meal.

tinas-pharm-PURPLE-foodBlue and purple foods promote memory function, urinary tract health, and healthy aging.  They help boost the immune system and offer antioxidants for healing.  People who eat blue/purple fruits and vegetables have reduced risk of high blood pressure, are more likely to have higher levels of good cholesterol (HDL) and are less likely to be overweight.  These foods are packed with flavonoids which are powerful phytochemicals – they are beneficial to the cardiovascular system and may lower risk of heart disease.

Blueberries, blackberries, and eggplant contain anthocyanin (a powerful antioxidant also found in red foods).

Preparing some purple peppers with an old friend in Austin, Texas

Preparing some purple peppers with an old friend in Austin, Texas

Blueberries protect the brain from inflammation and oxidative stress.  They may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease as well as Parkinson’s.  They even help protect against colon, breast, and lung cancer!

The acai berry has gained popularity recently for its health benefits.  It is rich in antioxidants and a great source of omega-3, fiber, and protein.  It also has a high score on the superoxide scavenging assay.

Incorporate some blue and purple fruits and vegetables into your diet today!

Eating the Rainbow

Eating a variety of foods (specifically – organic whole foods) is important to every diet.  There are a variety of fruits and vegetables available that you may have never tried or even heard of.  Eating a wide assortment of foods enables you to take in a good variety of vitamins and minerals.  So I thought I would do a series on colors – eating the rainbow!  Phytochemicals are the elements in plant foods that give them their color and distinctive flavors.  Phytochemicals aid in disease prevention and treatment, and can help in such conditions as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure.

I will start with red.  Here are some organic red foods I am able to find at this time of year:  beets, tomatoes, red grapefruit, red wine, red pepper, pomegranate, red pear, radishes, apples, red onions, cranberries, raspberries, and gogi berries.  

What is it in red food that is beneficial to health?  Lycopene (found in tomatoes and grapefruit) is linked to prevention of heart disease and prostate cancer.  The flavonoid anthocyanidin is found in raspberries, grapes, red cabbage and red wine and is a powerful antioxidant.  Cranberry contains proanthocyanidin which helps keep the elasticity of our skin and blood vessels.  Resveratrol is found in red grape skins and red wine and has been found to prevent progression of cancer and blot clots.  It has also been shown to raise HDL (good cholesterol) and promote longevity.  Pomegranate juice is full of antioxidants and may help lower blood pressure.  Beets contain a phytonutrient called betalain which has been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification properties.  Red bell peppers are packed with vitamin C and A along with a bunch of other nutrients. 

I challenge you to add some red foods (other than just wine!) into your diet this week.