Jazz up your food with colours. Sticking to a particular coloured food could be depriving you of nourishment, and also keeping you from shedding that extra flab, say experts. Colourful food is much more than just plain pretty. It is super healthy! Doctors around the world are recommending the Rainbow Diet, eating as many colours as possible on a daily basis. This is because the deep greens, vibrant reds, deep purples, bright oranges and yellows, that we consume every day, provide far more than just ‘a rainbow’ of colourful visual stimulation. They mean serious sustenance.
You Can’t Eat Just One
Just like no one food can give you all the nutrition you need, no one colour can do much for the body. You need to devour an entire spectrum of colours to be vibrant and healthy. “Every colour represents a specific phytochemical (chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants ) or flavonoids (colours) that nourish and protect the body (yellow/ orange indicate carotene, green indicates chlorophyll etc.). Since each colour serves a different function, it is essential to include all colours in the diet,” says nutritionist Dhvani Shah. “The rainbow concept is also designed to get kids more interested in eating through the use of colours,” she adds.
According to holistic nutritionist Priya Dhammi Sharma, “Eating the rainbow” is a catchy term and an easy reminder to include a variety of fruits and vegetables in the diet. Since all fruits and vegetables contain different micronutrients, eating the rainbow ensures that you are consuming the entire spectrum.
Get Your Colour Quotient Right
The phytochemicals and flavonoids in food protect the body against infections and cancers, enhance the quality of skin and hair, keep the blood healthy and aid in enzymatic actions. Dark leafy greens such as lettuce, spinach, rocket leaves are particularly crucial foods. These are rich in chlorophyll, which boosts haemoglobin. Green vegetables are also what you might term ‘low calorie, high nutrient’ foods – so they help significantly with weight loss too. Shah adds, “Carotenes (yellow/orange) keep the skin healthy and glowing, while anthocyanins (purple/ blue) have excellent memory-boosting and anti-aging properties.” So make sure you add those flavourful and astringent blueberries, grapes, plums and figs to your diet right away.
Mood and Food Enhancers
Each coloured food item has a unique composition and works differently on taste buds. Humans, largely, experience six tastes – salty, sour, sweet, bitter, pungent and astringent. While chlorophyll stimulates the bitter taste, carotene stimulates the sour taste and flavonoids tickle the salty taste buds. “Colours not only affect and reflect our mood but also influence our hunger and the quantity we consume. For instance, food served on grey, black, dark brown and purple tend to suppress appetite, while orange and green are appetite stimulants. Turquoise, yellow and red plates are best kept away if one is trying to lose weight since these colours might encourage you to overeat,” says Sharma. Of all the colours in the spectrum, blue is an appetite suppressant. No wonder then that a lot of weight loss plans suggest putting your food on a blue plate.
White: Contains allium, flavonoids. Flavonoids reduce inflammation, support the immune system, lower cholesterol, are anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. Eg: Onions, garlic, cauliflower.
Red: Contains lycopene, vitamin C and anthocyanin. Lycopene antioxidant prevents prostrate and breast cancer. Eg: Watermelon, tomatoes, grapefruit, raspberries, cranberries, strawberries, cherries, pomegranates.
Orange/Yellow: Contains vitamin C, carotenoids (Beta and alpha carotene), bioflavonoids. They are wonderful for eye health, good for the immune system, prevent cancer, particularly of the lung, esophagus and stomach. They are also believed to reduce the risk of heart disease. Eg: Peppers, oranges, squashes, carrots.
Yellow/Green: Contains lutein. Lutein clears toxins from the body and is found in abundance in broccoli, cabbage, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, kale.
Blue/Purple: Contains Anthocyanins and vitamin C. Antocyanins are antioxidants which are heart healthy, prevents blood clot and may also help ward off cancer. Eg: Eggplants, blackberries, blueberries, prunes.
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