|Article by Cristal G. Orpilla, RN|
Healthy foods come in all sizes, shapes, and colors of the rainbow. Indeed, the body does benefit from eating from a variety of hues. Read on to learn more about the Rainbow Diet.
What is the Rainbow Diet?
The Rainbow Diet incorporates all the colors of the rainbow into the foods we eat- Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet. Scientific studies have shown that the pigments that make up the color of fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants that strengthen the immune system. These antioxidants help fight disease and deterioration by neutralizing cellular inflammation in the body caused by oxidation— very much like rust formation. Internally, this damage can contribute to a variety of health disorders, such as heart disease and cancer. Externally, it contributes to signs of aging, such as wrinkles and discoloration. So, what should you eat to boost your defenses, inside and out?
Food Color Codes
Eating the full rainbow assortment of fresh raw fruits and vegetables on a regular basis is the key to giving the body the nutrients it needs to build healthy cells, and strengthen the immune and detoxification systems so they can do a better job of fighting off disease and aging. Many nutrients are associated with various colors. The main natural pigments that give color to fruits and vegetables are:
The red pigment contains the lycopene antioxidant, from the carotenoid family of pigments. Lycopene helps improve short and long term memory, protects and prevents disorders such as heart disease and certain types of cancer. Besides the antioxidant properties, lycopene is also a detoxifier of the waste in the body and inhibits cholesterol formation.
Lycopene is present in the red fruits and vegetables, such as red peppers, pimientos, tomatoes, apples, red onion, pink grapefruit, watermelon, and guava.
The orange-yellow pigment is given by the beta carotene, a natural Vitamin A derivative that improves eyesight, maintains heart function, strengthens the immune system, and prevents against cancer. As if that weren’t enough, beta-carotene is also integral in anti-aging for the skin. Beta carotene is a photopigment usually related to the Vitamin A in plants. It is stored in the epidermis where it performs a very important function: it acts to absorb harmful UV rays and prevents damage to skin tissue.
Betacarotene is present in pumpkins, pears, carrots, saffron, oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, pineapples, bananas, mango.
The blue-indigo-violet pigment contains anthocyanines, which helps inhibit the cholesterol level in the blood and helps to maintain the flexibility of the blood vessels. Anthocyanin is a water soluble pigment that gives the color of many flowers and plants, usually red, purple or blue . This pigment is also a powerful antioxidant and protects the plants from UV rays. Mixed with the beneficial effects of vitamin A or C, anthocyanins improve visual accuracy, improve blood circulation to the eyes and the nervous system and can prevent or fight against free radical damage found in eye disorders such glaucoma.
Anthocyanins are present in blue-violet fruits and vegetables such as: grapes, plums, red cabbage and red beet, currants, figs, all kinds of berries etc.
Perhaps the most important color in the Rainbow Diet is green. The green pigment is produced by lutein and chlorophyll. Lutein protects eyesight, strengthens bones and teeth, and protects from various cancers. Chlorophyll in green plants has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects, and aids in purification of the blood from toxins and other waste products.
This power duo are found in green vegetables and fruits such as kale, collards, chard, spinach, bok choy, cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, endives, asparagus, spinach, kiwi fruits, green apples, beans, peas, parsley, and green tea .
Rainbow Salad: A Recipe for Health
Here is a recipe from Dr. Eric Braverman’s The Edge Effect that’s both colorful and nutritious, and a delicious way to be healthy!
Sweet peppers: red, yellow, green; cut julienne
Grated, or thinly sliced carrot
Spring mix lettuce: red lettuce, romaine, sweet butter
Cucumber, thinly sliced
Grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
Slices of mandarin orange
Diced red onion
Chopped boiled egg
Crumbled feta cheese
Optional: grilled chicken breast or baby shrimp
Salad dressing: 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 2/3 cup olive oil, 1 tbsp honey, salt and pepper to taste, 2 tsp fresh lemon juice, fresh parsley (or 1/4 tsp dried), 1 tbsp poppy seed. Blend all ingredients in a blender, adding the poppy seeds last, and pulse to mix.
So take a lesson from good ‘ol Roy G. Biv, and add colorful life to your diet. Your body will thank you!
What are your favorite colors to eat?
References: Adapted from The 7-Day Color Diet and The Edge Effect