The Wonders of Natural Colors
Versatility in COLORS of our wardrobe is ‘in’ as in fashion industry but is not in our dietary habits.
Phyto means plants and phytonutrients are the food pigments that give fresh foods their vibrant hues of red, green, purple, yellow and orange but more than that they contain powerful antioxidant properties that can have a profound effect on our total health.They are found only in plants and provides health benefits beyond those that essential nutrients provide. These substances, which works in an interactive way with vitamins, minerals, and fiber in our diet promotes good health and lowers disease risk. Phytochemicals may act as antioxidants, protect and regenerate essential nutrients, work to deactivate cancer-causing substances, prevention of heart diseases, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Food scientist estimated that there are approximately 4000 phytochemicals, out of which only a small fraction has been closely studied. Each phytochemical benefits our body in a different way, so it’s good to have a combination of them.
Dark green foods: Chlorophyll
We know that plants can’t grow without chlorophyll. But is chlorophyll beneficial for human also? Lets find out!
Blue/Purple foods: Anthocyanin
The blue/purple hues in foods are due to their anthocyanin content. The darker the blue hue, the higher the phytochemical concentration. Anthocyanins are antioxidants are particularly known as heart healthy and may help support healthy blood pressure.Anthocyanins prevents from clot formation. They may also help lower risk of cancer. Consumption of blueberries is linked with improved memory function and healthy aging. Some anthocyanins have anti-inflammatory properties, and some studies suggest their role in the inhibition of tumor development, diabetes and ulcer treatment. Anthocyanins may work as anti-viral and anti-microbial too.
Eggplant (especially the skin), blueberries, blackberries, prunes, plums, pomegranates, cranberries, blackberries and plums are good sources of Anthocyanins.
Oranges, sweet potatoes, carrots, mangoes, spinach, avocado, kiwifruit, other leafy greens, pistachios and pumpkin are super food as they are richest-known sources of carotenoids and beta carotene, which can be converted by the body into retinol, a bio available source of vitamin A.
This powerful antioxidant is beneficial for eye health, immune system function and a healthy heart. Zeaxanthin, which is also found in yellow and green foods like spinach, collard greens as well as egg yolk, is beneficial for the eyes and immune system. Beta-carotene rich foods such oranges, papayas, bell peppers & kiwis also contain vitamin C, which protects cell from free radical damage as well as promoting skin and immune system health. These foods exhibit a richness in lutein which is particularly beneficial for eye health. Lutein receptors are in the macula of the eye, it helps to protect against age-related macular degeneration.” lutein is found in the green skin around the nut.
Red Foods: Lycopene
Tomatoes, pink grapefruit, watermelon and papaya are rich in the antioxidant Lycopene (a carotenoid). Lycopene is effective in supressing the free radicals that can damage cell membranes. A carotenoid, lycopene is a powerful antioxidant as it reduced the risk of some cancers, especially prostate cancer, and protection against heart attacks. Food scientists believe that poor communication between cells is one of the causes of the abnormal growth of cells, which may ultimately lead to the development of different kinds of cancer. Lycopene may limit tumor growth by stimulating communication between cells. Its benefits are related directly to its antioxidant properties.
Cooking further enhances the activity of some phytochemicals, such as lycopene. Cooked tomato has greater health benefits compared with the uncooked version because the heating process allows all carotenoids, including lycopene, to be more easily absorbed by the body.
Other than vitamin C and folate, red fruits and vegetables are also sources of flavonoids, which reduce inflammation and have antioxidant properties.
White foods : Anthoxanthins
Some phytochemicals are colorless found in bananas, parsnips, potatoes and garlic which take their ‘color’ from pigments called anthoxanthins. These anthoxanthins contain health-promoting chemicals such as allicin, which may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure and their role in helping to reduce the risk of stomach cancer and heart disease. Some white foods like potatoes and bananas are also good sources of potassium, needed for nerve and muscle function as well as blood pressure – which in turn is associated with diabetes, kidney failure and Cushings disease.
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