Demystifying the Delicious: the Rainbow DietMarch 03 2014
From red and green to purple and orange, there are so many healthy options when it comes to fresh fruits, vegetables and grains. Including a wide selection of each into your daily diet will increase the amount and variety of vitamins and minerals that you can benefit from. Such an intake offers health benefits like lowered blood pressure, a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and a decreased risk of various cancers. In honor of National Nutrition Month, we wanted to share some of these colorful insights with all of you.
Fruits, vegetables and whole grains generally contain little fat, cholesterol or sodium and provide complex carbohydrates, fiber and nutrients. Most are low in calories, and they contain natural sugar, as opposed to refined sugar, which can cause abrupt fluctuations in your blood sugar level. Different colors indicate different nutrient profiles, so focus on getting a little of each color in your diet every day to maximize the nutritional benefits.
Red fruits and vegetables, such as raspberries, tomatoes, watermelon, red cabbage, kidney beans, cherries, strawberries and beets, are likely to be rich in the antioxidants lycopene and anthocyanins, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These antioxidants can help to fight against heart disease and certain cancers as well as decrease the risk for stroke and macular degeneration.
Orange and Yellow
Most orange and yellow fruits and vegetables are rich in beta-carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A, a nutrient that not only improves night vision, but also helps keep your skin, teeth and bones healthy.
They can also contain a ton of vitamin C. This antioxidant aids in boosting your immune system, helps to promote collagen formation and rebuilds depleted collagen in skin, and protects against cardiovascular, heart, disease.
Green vegetables are good for your eyes, bones and teeth, and their vitamin K content helps your blood to clot properly. These foods' antioxidant vitamins, particularly vitamins C and E, may lower your risk of chronic diseases. They provide the phytonutrients lutein and zeaxanthin, which may protect you from vision loss due to eye diseases such as macular degeneration, according to North Dakota State University.
Blue and Purple
Blue and purple fruits and vegetables contain anthocyanins, natural plant pigments with powerful antioxidant properties that may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. The anthocyanins and ellagic acid in blueberries have been shown to fight cancer cells in the lungs, stomach, breasts and pancreas. Anthocyanins and ellagic acid also show anti-inflammatory properties that may prevent cancers of the esophagus and colon.
White fruits and vegetables, including apples, pears, bananas, cauliflower and cucumbers, are high in dietary fiber, helping to protect you from high cholesterol, and antioxidant-rich flavonoids, such as quercetin, which is abundant in apples and pears. They may also lower your risk of stroke, according to a group of Dutch researchers who published a study with the American Heart Association in 2011.
A great way to incorporate more colorful fruits and vegetables into your diet while still feeling full and satisfied is to pair them with organic whole grain rice or quinoa. You can incorporate several different fruits and vegetables into one rice or quinoa dish or salad.
If a food contains all the essential amino acids, it is seen as a “complete” protein. The problem is that many plant foods are deficient in certain essential amino acids, such as Lysine. However… quinoa is an exception to this, being particularly high in in all the essential amino acids. For this reason, quinoa is an excellent source of protein. It has both more and better protein than most grains
It’s widely known that quinoa is high in protein, making it an optimal addition for vegans and vegetarians. But quinoa also contains large amounts of the plant antioxidant flavonoids, Quercetin and Kaempferol. In fact, the quercetin content of quinoa is even higher than typical high-quercetin foods like cranberries. These important molecules have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-cancer effects.
Find some colorful quinoa recipes here!