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Rainbow Kitchen

Eating Up a Healthy Rainbow

By Allison St. Claire
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Carotenoids also may be good for your heart. One study found that men with high cholesterol who ate plenty of vegetables high in carotenoids had a 36 percent lower chance of heart attack and death than their counterparts who shunned vegetables.

 

Now add any veggie and/or fruit you like or have handy. Consider your plate a palette of riotous color – perhaps even grander than you might have concocted in oils or watercolors. Feast your eyes while you feed your body.

There may be no more bountiful time across the country to find a cornucopia of colorful, brimming-with-healthy nutrients and fantastic tasting fruits and vegetables. Let your “inner artist” do a little mix and matching from all the categories to create a “rainbow plate” at every meal.

 

Reds

Red fruits and vegetables are colored by natural plant pigments called lycopene or anthocyanins. Lycopene in tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit, for example, may help reduce risk of several types of cancer, especially prostate cancer. Anthocyanins in strawberries, raspberries, red grapes and other fruits and vegetables act as powerful antioxidants that protect cells from damage and are linked with keeping our hearts healthy, too.

Try these for starters: apples, beets, red cabbage, cherries, cranberries, guava, pink grapefruit, red grapes, red peppers, pomegranates, red potatoes, radicchio, radishes, raspberries, rhubarb, strawberries, tomatoes, watermelon.

 

Yellows

Orange/yellow fruits and vegetables are usually colored by natural plant pigments called carotenoids. Beta-carotene in sweet potatoes, pumpkins and carrots is converted to vitamin A, which helps maintain healthy mucous membranes and healthy eyes. Scientists have also reported that carotenoid-rich foods can help reduce risk of cancer and can improve immune system function. Carotenoids also may be good for your heart. One study found that men with high cholesterol who ate plenty of vegetables high in carotenoids had a 36 percent lower chance of heart attack and death than their counterparts who shunned vegetables.

Stock up with these: yellow apples, apricots, butternut squash, cantaloupe, carrots, grapefruit, lemons, mangoes, nectarines, oranges, papayas, peaches, pears, yellow peppers, persimmons, pineapple, pumpkin, rutabagas, yellow summer or winter squash, sweet corn, sweet potatoes, tangerines, yellow tomatoes, yellow watermelon.

 

Greens

Green fruits and vegetables are colored by the natural plant pigment chlorophyll. Some members of the green group, including spinach and other dark leafy greens, green peppers, peas, cucumber and celery, contain lutein which works with another chemical, zeaxanthin, found in corn, red peppers, oranges, grapes and egg yolks to help keep eyes healthy. Together, these chemicals may help reduce risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, which can lead to blindness if untreated.

The indoles in broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables may help protect against some types of cancer. Leafy greens such as spinach and broccoli are excellent sources of folate.

Pile every plate high with one or more of these: green apples, artichokes, asparagus, avocados, green beans, bok choy, mesclun, kale, or watercress broccoli, brussels sprouts, green cabbage, cucumbers, green grapes, honeydew melon, kiwi, lettuce, limes, green onions, peas, green pepper, spinach zucchini, and turnip, collard, mustard or beet greens.

 

Blues

Blue/purple fruits and vegetables also contain anthocyanins, which in blueberries, grapes and raisins act as powerful antioxidants that protect cells from damage. They may help reduce risk of cancer, stroke and heart disease. Other studies have shown that eating more blueberries is linked with improved memory function and healthy aging.

Brighten up a meal with these: blackberries, blueberries, eggplant, figs, huckleberries, plums, prunes, purple grapes, raisins.

 

Whites

Lots more anthoxanthins here. Plus health-promoting chemicals such as allicin, which may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure and may help reduce risk of stomach cancer and heart disease. Some members of the white group, such as bananas and potatoes, are good sources of potassium, too.

For the final decorative touch, try these: bananas, cauliflower, garlic, ginger, jicama, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, potatoes and daikon radish.

 


Recipe:

Hot or Cold Quinoa and Veggie Salad

 


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Allison St. Claire loves to dream about, study, grow, play with, prepare and ultimately enjoy eating great food.

Meet Allison