You’ve probably heard the phrase from the early physician, Hippocrates: “Let food be thy medicine.” But, did you know that “food is medicine” is not the full picture when it comes to health?
Eating a rainbow of colorful foods allows our bodies to absorb nutrients from a variety of foods. Whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, herbs, whole grains, legumes, and nuts are composed of thousands of different phytonutrients that serve an array of functions in the human body. As we strive for balance in food colors and recognize when certain colors may be imbalanced regarding food intake, we can boost our overall health and well-being! Let’s take a look at Food colors and the health benefits.
Red—Immune system: Red-colored foods tend to be high in vitamin C, which supports adrenal health and immunity. Red-colored foods, such as tomatoes, strawberries, and red beets, have also been shown to be anti-inflammatory. The America’s Phytonutrient Report by the Nutrilite Health
Institute found 78% of people surveyed fell short of red foods in their daily diet. Choosing red, plant-based foods can help add fiber, vitamins, and minerals to your daily eating. Examples include beets, radishes, red apples, tomatoes, red onions, strawberries, red peppers, and others. These foods
support our adrenal glands and immune system, protecting against inflammation. They may also energize us by balancing our blood sugar and supplying our blood cells with needed minerals. This effect can help make us more alert and attentive, as the body is receiving the nutrients it needs. It’s important to find the right balance of colorful foods for you.
Orange—Reproductive health: Eating orange-colored foods abundant in carotenoids like beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin may help lower the risk of reproductive issues like endometriosis or even delay ovarian decline. Carotenoids are also found within the ovaries and the sperm to support fertility. Orange foods coupled with fluids, and healthy fats can help restore balance. Selecting orange plant-based fruits and vegetables provide our bodies with beta-carotene, flavonoids, and vitamins A and C. Examples include apricots, cantaloupe oranges, mangos, peaches, carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and yams. Nutrilite Health Institute stated in The America’s Phytonutrient Report that 79% of people surveyed fell short of yellow/orange foods in their daily diet. It’s important to find an even distribution of colorful
foods for you. After adding in orange foods, water, and healthy fats and oils, pay attention to how you are feeling, physically and emotionally. Some indications of a balanced orange health are more hydration, a healthy reproductive system.
Yellow—Digestion: Eating too many of the processed yellow foods, like breads, baked goods, and processed cereals can extinguish our digestive fire and increase our risk for metabolic syndrome and even type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, eating acidic, warming, yellow foods, like lemons, ginger, and grapefruit, can help us burn brightly and rev our metabolism. A balance of healthy yellow-colored foods, while avoiding yellow, unhealthy processed and sugary foods, can help restore balance. Yellow foods provide our bodies with a variety of nutrients, such as vitamins A and C, a variety of B vitamins, potassium, and folate. Some healthy yellow foods are lemons, bananas, pineapples, lentils, quinoa, legumes, and an assortment of yellow vegetables (yellow bell pepper, squash, and yellow tomatoes, to name a few). As I mentioned above, the Nutrilite Health Institute stated in The America’s Phytonutrient Report that 79% of people surveyed fell short of yellow/orange foods in their daily diet. Consider how many yellow plant-based foods you consume daily. Perhaps you can season your cooking with yellow spices, such as turmeric, ginger, mustard seed, or curry.
Green—Cardiovascular health: Green foods like leafy greens are rich in nutrients such as folate, vitamin K, and naturally-occurring nitrates that make them healing and expansive for the heart and blood vessels. Green foods are heart-healthy foods. They contain chlorophyll, which give the foods their green color. Chlorophyll acts as an antioxidant and blood purifier, promoting robust circulation to give us a healthy glow and skin coloring. Green foods also contain an essential nutrient known as folate. This nutrient, along with vitamin B6 and B12, is needed to lower levels of a compound known as homocysteine in the blood, which is positively correlated with heart disease, stroke, and deep vein thrombosis. Other wonderful vitamins and minerals provided by green foods include vitamins A, C, and K and minerals of calcium, magnesium, and potassium. You will also benefit from other healthy compounds when increasing your green food intake, such as phytosterols that help to reduce levels of “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and phytoestrogens that enhance your heart health, balance estrogen, and calm your mood. The Nutrilite Health Institute commented in The America’s Phytonutrient Report that 69% of people surveyed fell short of green in their daily diet. There are so many options for green foods as you will see Eating a balance of colors each day is the goal. Here are some examples of green food artichokes, arugula, asparagus, avocado, bell peppers, green apples, green beans, green grapes and so many more.
Blue-Purple—Cognition and mood: Blue-purple foods like berries and grapes have been shown to help with better brain function like learning and memory, as well as improving mood and calmness. Blue-purple foods feed our brains with antioxidants known as anthocyanidins. These foods support our brain’s neuroplasticity, which is its ability to create new pathways to boost cognition, learning, and memory. America’s Phytonutrient Report by The Nutrilite Health Institute found that 88% of people surveyed fell short of blue-purple in their daily diet. Out of all the colors, it was the one which was the lowest in daily diets. While blue-purple foods may seem rare, a variety of purple foods exist. Blueberries may be the first dark blue-purple food that comes to mind. However, there are more options to add blue-purple foods to your daily eating, including blackberries, eggplant, purple carrots, purple cauliflower, purple cabbage, purple grapes, purple potatoes, figs, and plums.
Blue-Green—Thyroid health: Blue-green foods like algae, sea plants, and even spirulina contain minerals such as iodine and selenium, which nourish and support the function of the thyroid gland. Eating sea-vegetables from the blue-green ocean provides the body, particularly the thyroid gland, with needed iodine, selenium, and zinc. These minerals are especially important for those with thyroid problems.
We can now see how the color of our food impacts our health. Are you beginning to think about foods you can add to your daily intake in order to balance your daily rainbow food intake? I know I have. I am looking forward to eating a more colorful diet. I hope you are too.