Have you ever heard that you should be eating the rainbow when it comes to food? When we hear this we often ask our selves what does this really mean and what are the benefits? As more research has been done on the functions of food, we have realized additional nutrients in our foods beyond the basic vitamins and minerals and macronutrients. We have learned that there are actually phytonutrients in plant-based foods. Phytonutrients are found in fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains, beans, nuts, and teas. They have been show to help increase our body’s productivity and may prevent certain diseases.
We have a tendency to fall into a rut when it comes to food, and not adding enough variety. The saying eat the rainbow helps us to remember to eat a wide variety of foods of varying colors. Each color has additional health benefits from phytonutrients.
Red foods, such as blood oranges, sweet red peppers, and tomatoes can have additional health benefits, such as increasing heart, hormone, liver, and gastrointestinal health, and are anti-inflammatories.
When we think of orange foods, we automatically think of oranges, but there are also persimmons, turmeric root, and apricots. These foods have the additional health benefits of increasing immune, skin, and reproductive health, as well as being anti-bacterial, and a great source of vitamin A.
Yellow fruits and vegetables include pineapple, summer squash, and ginger roots. They are known to help increase eye, heart, skin, and vascular health, as well as increasing cognition and being an anti-inflammatory.
There are a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in the green food category. Some different foods in this category are decaf green tea, snow peas, bamboo sprouts, and Bok Choy. Green foods are known to increase brain, skin, heart, and liver health. It can also create hormone balance and is an anti-inflammatory.
Blue, Purple, and Black foods have similar benefits and these foods can include plums, black or purple rice, berries, eggplants, and figs. They increase heart, liver, and cognitive health and also act as an anti-inflammatory.
Lastly there are tan, white, and brown foods. Which are known to be an anti-microbial and increase gastrointestinal, heart, liver, and hormone health. The foods we often think about are garlic, mushrooms, and ginger, but this can also include nuts, brown rice, quinoa, seeds, legumes, and apples.
All fruits and vegetables in every shade of color have the extra benefit of reducing the chance of cancer. This is due to antioxidants, which help to protect the body cells. Free radicals can change the structure of cells and cause mutations, but antioxidants reduce the damage and cause less mutations and less chance of cancer. Eating a wider variety of fruits and vegetables will help to reduce your chances of cancer due to the antioxidants.
Eating a wide variety of plant-based foods can add a wide variety of health benefits. It is very important to occasionally re-evaluate what we eat and add a little extra color at each meal. Next time you make you ABS Pancakes, throw in some fresh fruit to your batter to add some additional health benefits!
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