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Are Your Daily Meals Colorful Enough?

If you’re having a meal now, take a second to reflect upon the colors of the (plant) food on your plate. How many colors are you eating today? Did you know that each color has its own significant benefit towards your health? Let’s take a closer look at how a more colorful plant-based meal can work wonders to help you achieve optimum health.

Eat the colours of the rainbow, they say. It’s not a new saying, by the way, but not everyone abides by this. In fact, most of us don’t! We failed to see that each food has its purpose for us, and that there are countless foods that nature has provided for us to help keep our bodies in the best of health, provided we consume them in a consistent way. With so many types of colorful plant foods out there, it’s unlikely that we’ll get bored of them either, but first, we’ll have to start somewhere. We feel that getting to know more about the colours in fruits and vegetables is a good place to begin.

Go For Different Colors – You’ll Never Go Wrong
Ever noticed how attractive those produce sections appear to be at supermarkets? Green, red, yellow, purple and orange all arranged for your picking! It’s hard to not be attracted by them, and you should be attracted to them, for each and every one of those colorful plant foods have immense nutritional value for human health.

That’s because each color represents nature’s pigment of nutrients that our bodies need to function well and to ward off diseases.

The prevalence of diseases around the world is alarming to say the least. Right here in our country, diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer seem to be getting more rampant, affecting people from all walks of life, and they don’t seem to be choosing their victims either. Or perhaps that’s just an illusion and they could have been avoided?

Get The Most Out Of Water-Soluble Vegetables
Water-soluble plant foods contain anthocyanins (indicated by the colors blue, purple and burgundy), and Betalains ( available in certain red and yellow plants). Anthocyanins are found to be useful in improving night vision, protect against heart diseases and possibly also prevent cancer. Foods such as blueberries, purple cabbage and onions are rich in Anthocyanins. Betalains, found in foods such as red and yellow beets, chard and purple spinach, is said to protect against liver damage and prevent ulcers. For the best absorption of these two nutrients, always consume them with the cooking water. For example, if you’re making a soup, don’t just eat the contents, but drink up the soup too. Another way to ensure maximum absorption is to make smoothies with them: Blueberry and beet smoothie, anyone?

Think about it – how many people do you know today who just love eating their vegetables, and take the trouble to vary them day to day in their diets? Better still, how many people in your life actually ensure their meals each and every day include various colourful plant foods? Can’t be that many, right? So, right there, you can clearly see one of the main reasons why so many of us are falling ill, some at a very young age too. We’re simply not getting enough essential nutrients that our body needs to thrive.

If you feel that you’re not particularly healthy, or you think your health is going downstream, take a closer look at your diet and make the necessary change. Add colour into your diet!

Why? Because eating an abundance of fruits and vegetables can only reap one side effect: better health. It’s nothing new; for centuries people have relied on plant medicine to treat illnesses, and the very smart ones eat a colourful diet to keep them away in the first place. Today however, we’re always looking for the easy way out. Those take-aways, pre-packaged foods; microwaveable meals; and canned food options call out to us constantly and the convenience they offer is just too hard to ignore. It’s so easy to come up with a dozen excuses such as being too busy to prepare a meal, for instance, or, too tired after a long day at work to think of spending time in the kitchen. If you keep going in this direction, in time, what exactly will you be putting into your body?

Eat Fat-Soluble Foods The Right Way
When eating green and certain red, orange and yellow plant foods, you’ll be consuming health-beneficial chlorophyll as well as carotenoids. Chlorophyll is the pigment that gives green vegetables their enchanting color, where else carotenoids are responsible for the rich hues in carrots, pumpkins, apricot, cantaloupe, etc. Both chlorophyll and carotenoids are fat-soluble, meaning that they will be absorbed better when eaten with a small amount of fat. So, go ahead and stir-fry them, or eat them as a salad with some high quality olive oil as dressing.

Have you thought of that? Well, it’s time to do so now.

And Now, Back To Those Colours
Those lovely hues you see in leafy greens, oranges, blueberries, chillies, mangoes, tomatoes, etc, are plant pigments. Among the important roles they play is to protect plants from excessive, tissue-damaging solar radiation as well as damage from free radicals. Some of these pigments also protect plants from environmental stress, and defend against attacks by microbes, insects and animal predators. Plant pigments are also responsible for dealing with damaged tissues, and they serve as growth regulators.

So, according to plant science, many of these plant pigments help to protect plants from damage, and on the flipside, medical researchers believe that those are the same type of damages in humans that result in the offset of some of the most chronic diseases.

Here’s a chart to help identify plant pigments, learn how they can help protect us from within, and learn why experts in this field go so far so as to claim that plants are the master chemists of the earth.

Aina Syairah bt Abdul Rahman,
Pantai Hospital Klang (PHK)

Healthy eating means eating a wide variety and balanced foods. Have you ever heard of the importance of “eating a rainbow” of foods? The spectrum of colours of a rainbow preserves the diversity of phytochemicals and phytonutrients produced by plants that can act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory supplements. There are 4 main colours of phytonutrients in our life.

Reddish fruits and veggies are predominant with vitamin A, C, and antioxidants (Lycopene). It helps to reduce the risk of cancer and protect against heart disease. Orange/ Yellow group mainly rich in beta-carotene, vitamin A and vitamin C. Vitamin A plays an important role in our body as it helps to support the function of white blood cells (for the immune system) and also helps to maintain healthy eyesight. Green vegetables are good sources of fibre, vitamin K, folic acid, and potassium. It helps in the development of our red blood cells, digestive system and can also improve our immune system.Example: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and spinach. Purple/Blue foods are rich in anthocyanins which acts as an antioxidant that helps in lowering the risk of cancer, build up our immune system, and for maintenance of proper brain function.

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