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Natural Miracles:
What Functional Foods Can Do for You?

(Released October 2007)

  by Leila Kiani  


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The Colors of a Healthy Diet


Eating enough fruits and vegetables is recommended by nutritionists, and it sounds like a lot each day. But, for example, eating some banana or apple in the morning along with your cereals and milk or having a cup of fruity yogurt at snack time, eating green salad with a slice of avocado with your lunch, and having some berries or oranges as your afternoon snack, will give your day a complete regimen of food to promote your health.

Table 4 shows how food choices depend on color and functional effects (7):

Table: 4 (7):
Color Code Groups of Fruits and Vegetables
Color Phytochemical Fruits and Vegetables
Red Lycopene Tomatos and tomato products (soups, juice, pasta sauce)
Red/Purple Anthocyanins and Polyphenols Berries, grapes, red wine
Orange Alpha and Beta Carotene Carrots, mangos, pumpkin
Orange/Yellow Beta-cryptxanthin and Flavanoids Cantalope, peaches, oranges, papaya
Yellow/Green Lutine and Zeaxanthin Spinach, avocado, honeydew
Green Glucosinolates and Indoles Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower
White/Green Allyl Sulphides Leeks, onion, garlic, chives

So what we get by now is that color is the most effective way for choosing fruit and vegetables. Why?

Choosing foods by their color is the key factor of this section. Unfortunately, "most Americans eat only two to three servings of fruits and vegetables per day without regard to the phytochemical contents of the foods being eaten" (7). The color of fruits and vegetables correlates with their phytochemical composition; furthermore all phytochicals have antioxidant effects. So selecting fruits and vegetables based on their colors acts as a nutrition guide for consumers that helps people change their dietary patterns. Ideally, fruits and vegetables should contain each of the seven color groups each day (7).

Make your food colorful
As Table 4 shows, there are seven major colors for fruits and vegetables.

  • Red
Eating red fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes and tomato products, strawberries, and watermelon, helps the body to prevent cancer because of Lycopene. Lycopene may inhibit cholesterol synthesis and enhance LDL degradation. Tomato products are more effective than tomatoes themselves.
  • Red/ Purple
Foods like berries, grapes, and red wine, because of their anthocyanins and polyphenols, help maintain brain function and protect coronary heart diseases.
  • Orange
Foods like carrots, mangoes and pumpkins, because of their carotene compounds, can help neutralize free radicals that may damage cells, bolster cellular antioxidant defenses, and can be made into vitamin A in the body.
  • Orange/ Yellow
Flavanoids in cantaloupe, peaches, oranges, papaya and more may contribute to maintenance of heart health, and neutralize free radicals that may damage cells, and bolster cellular antioxidant defenses.
  • Yellow/ Green
Foods like spinach, avocado, and honeydew contain Lutein and Zeaxanthin that may contribute to maintenance of healthy vision.
  • Green
Broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower may enhance detoxification of undesirable compounds, because of their Indoles and Glucosinolates.
  • White/ Green
Leeks, onions, garlic, and chives contain Allyl sulphides that contribute to these foods' strong odor. They inhibit cell proliferation of cancer cells and studies show that they may be useful for in vivo clinical use against Helicobacter pylori infections.

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