Taste the Rainbow

Photo: Sarah Friedrich (Emory '17)

Photo: Sarah Friedrich (Emory '17)

Throughout the kale invasion, there's been a big push for all things green at the expense of other colors. Greens have tons of beneficial nutrients, but fruits and vegetables that represent the rest of the rainbow offer unique health benefits as well, making it important to eat a balanced (and colorful) diet. Here’s why it is so important to taste the rainbow (and we're not talking Skittles).

Red

Aside from offering anti-cancer properties, red foods also protect the brain, heart, liver, and immune system. Lycopene is a phytonutrient found in tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit, and guava, that protects against prostate and breast cancer. Anthocyanins are flavonoids found in red berries, beets, cabbage, and beans, that help reduce the risk of cancer.

SWEAT SCENE HACKS: 

Breakfast: Add fresh strawberries, raspberries, or cranberries to your yogurt or cereal.
Lunch: Add tomato to your sandwich or salad or grab a beet juice for later.
Dinner: Make zucchini linguini with marinara sauce or use garlic and olive oil and add diced tomatoes.

Orange

Orange foods boost the immune system, protect the eyes and aid skin health. Beta-Carotene, a phytonutrient found in orange foods that can turn into Vitamin A in the body, is known to improve vision, the immune system, and bone health, while also aiding in cell growth and reproduction. Bioflavonoids are other phytonutrients that work with Vitamin C to reduce the risk of heart attacks and cancer.

Photo: Chloe Chasanoff (Emory '18)

Photo: Chloe Chasanoff (Emory '18)

SWEAT SCENE HACKS:

Breakfast: Drink a glass of orange juice (fresh squeezed is best!) or infuse your water with orange slices.
Lunch: Add mango, peach, or papaya to your favorite smoothie.
Dinner: Make honey glazed carrots or roasted butternut squash cubes to mix up your side dish game. 

Yellow

Yellow foods contain compounds that are anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and can protect the brain, heart, eyes, and skin. Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids (plant pigments that contain antioxidants) that can reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases. These carotenoids are fat-soluble, meaning they need to be eaten with some fat in order to be fully absorbed by the body. Organic corn is a good source of lutein that can be eaten with some butter to reap all of the nutritional benefits!

SWEAT SCENE HACKS:

Breakfast: Toss some banana slices into your oatmeal or smoothie.
Lunch: Dress a salad with lemon juice for an added zest.
Dinner: Add yellow bell pepper or squash to your stir-fry.

Photo: Val Bank (Tulane '18)

Photo: Val Bank (Tulane '18)

Green

Greens have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, can help the liver work better, and maintain hormone balance. There are so many different green foods and so many different phytonutrients in these foods! As a general rule of thumb, the deeper the green, the more nutritious the food. Glucosinolates are anti-cancer phytonutrients found in cruciferous veggies that help the liver get rid of toxins. Phytosterols are compounds found in avocado and olive oil that help reduce LDL-cholesterol (the bad kind). Catechins, found in green tea, are shown to significantly reduce the risk of breast cancer.

SWEAT SCENE HACKS:

Breakfast: Toss some spinach or kale into your smoothie.
Lunch: Avocado toast anyone?
Dinner: Swap other cooking oils for extra virgin olive oil, make a side of sautéed broccoli or brussel sprouts, or spice up your dishes with green herbs like rosemary, thyme, and oregano.

Photo: Margaux Galitz (Emory '15)

Photo: Margaux Galitz (Emory '15)

BLUE/PURPLE/BLACK

These foods protect the brain from damage and promote healthy cognition and memory. However, most people eat the least amount of these beneficial colors! Note that smaller berries tend to be higher in nutrients and that essential phytonutrients are located in their skin. Resveratrol is a phytonutrient that reduces inflammation and blood sugar and provides benefits for the cardiovascular system. 

SWEAT SCENE HACKS:

Breakfast: Make your own acai bowl and top it off with your favorite berries. 
Lunch: Snack on a handful of berries, fresh figs, or raisins. 
Dinner: Use purple varieties of vegetables like carrots or cauliflower and of course, have a glass of red wine.

White/Tan/Brown

When we talk about this group of foods, we are not talking about processed starches, but rather legumes, nuts, seeds, and grains. Allicin is a medicinal component found in garlic that contributes to its anti-cancer, blood-pressure lowering effects. Lignans are phytonutrients found in sunflower seeds, cashews, and peanuts that are anti-inflammatory and protect against hormone-related cancers.

SWEAT SCENE HACKS:

Breakfast: Add cinnamon or cocoa powder to your cereal, oatmeal, or smoothie.
Lunch: Snack on some hummus and veggies or add it to your sandwich or salad. 
Dinner: Add onion, garlic, mushrooms, and sesame seeds to maximize the flavor of your favorite stir-fry.

 

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