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Consume Bright Colored Foods For Better Health

Oct 22, 2007
A plate of colored food is not only very pleasing to our eyes, but also very healthy. What looks good to eat is also very healthy for us and if you are finding it difficult to persuade your children to eat those boring old tired looking vegetables, then try brightening up their plates with some nice bright colors.

Kids love brightly colored pop and candy so it should not be a difficult thing to persuade them to eat some brightly colored vegetables like peppers, tomatoes, quashes and even thinly sliced carrots with a nice dip. The more intense the color the better for you they appear to be. Colored foods are normally packed full of anti-oxidants that help to prevent diseases of the cardiovascular system and to mop up free radicals present in our bodies. These antioxidants are all chemicals, and many of the naturally occurring antioxidants are highly colored. They are very good at destroying free radicals.

Free radicals are a form of chemical that destroy body cells, and not only accelerate the effects of aging, but also harm our heart. A free radical is a molecule with an unpaired electron. Electrons like to go around in pairs. Every atom has pairs of electrons, and one atom has an odd number then it pairs up with another atom with an odd number, so the two form a compound with an even number of electrons.

However, now and again, the body's metabolism throws up a molecule with an unpaired electron. That electron's first thought is to find a partner, and it does so by stealing one from a cell in your body. The result is the disruption and destruction of the cell. Free radicals can also be formed by environmental pollution, cigarette smoke, pesticides and so on.

Anti-oxidants destroy free radicals, and generally keep us healthier for longer. They do so by mopping up the extra electron, and there are many different types of antioxidant that form part of our normal diet. Among them are vitamins A, C and E, but there are others that are complex highly colored organic compounds. Among these are the anthocyanins, known to paint and ink manufacturers as strong red pigments.

Anthocyanins are the pigments or dyes that color red grapes, egg plant, plums and blueberries and they are very powerful antioxidants. However, it is not only for antioxidants that we should eat colorful foods. Some dark green foods, such as spinach, green peppers, peas, celery and dark leafy vegetables, contain what are known as lutein. Lutein works in combination with zeaxanthin to protect our eyes from cataracts and a condition known as macular degeneration, which can lead to blindness. Zeaxanthin is available from red peppers, oranges, egg yolk and corn.

Many people take folic acid supplements help maintain a healthy heart, and especially women to help prevent birth defects. However, the natural form of folic acid, folate is available from green foods such as lettuce, green beans, broccoli, peas, green grapes, and many other green foods. Broccoli and cabbage also contain indoles also known as indol-3-carbinol are believed to protect your from some cancers. So green is good!

Yellow is also good, and foods such as grapefruit, pineapple and melon help to boost the immune system and keep infections at bay, and also to provide energy and help maintain healthy eyes. Many antioxidants are yellow, although yellow might not a color that you would associate as being attractive to children, unless very bright. However, the yellow foods tend to be fruits rather than vegetables, and it is much easier to persuade a child to eat a pineapple than a squash.

Lycopene is another very powerful antioxidant that prevents the oxidation of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol that can damage the cardiovascular system through atherosclerosis. Lycopene is a red pigment very common in tomatoes, and is fat soluble. It is a member of the carotenoid family of antioxidants that are common in brightly colored foods such as carrots, red peppers and many yellow fruits and vegetables as described above. Lutein is also a carotenoid.

A diet rich in carotenoids is very good for keeping the effects of aging at bay and protecting you from heart problems. Lycopene is contained in the liver, colon, skin and prostate gland, and can occur at higher concentrations than most other carotenoids. People that suffer from HIV infections, high cholesterol diseases and inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis, are generally found to have low levels of lycopene in their blood.

Many of the so-called 'superfoods' are also brightly colored, and useful not just for their antioxidant properties. Take cranberries for example. These bright red berries contain proanthocyanadins that prevent some bacteria such as e-coli from adhering to the walls of the urinary tract and cause urinary tract infections such as cystitis, and also from adhering to the gums. Cranberries can therefore be used in the treatment of some gum diseases. However, they also possess strong antioxidant properties that help to protect the body against some cancers and also heart disease.

Blueberries are high in vitamin C, potassium and antioxidants with strong anti-inflammatory properties. Pomegranates have exceptionally high antioxidant content and are excellent for a healthy cardiovascular system while strong green broccoli contains not only vitamin C and antioxidants but also folate (the natural form of folic acid) and the phytochemical sulforafane that is believed to protect against certain cancers.

The color of your food, therefore, not only makes it look pretty on your plate and attractive to children, but also indicates the presence of strong antioxidants and other chemicals that help to protect you from specific medical conditions. It is no coincidence that the vast majority of the so-called superfoods is vegetable in origin rather than animal, and also tastes good. You should eat as many of them as you can, and certainly at least five portions every day.

Some can also be used as a remedy for specific conditions in addition to being used for their preventative properties, such as cranberries are used in the treatment of diseases of the urinary tract, and specific diets can help to reduce the amount of LDL cholesterol in the body. Eating with your eyes is not always a bad thing. Some may find it hard to consume enough colorful fruits and vegetables to be beneficial so what is a person to do? Your local health food store has available powdered vegetable and fruit concentrates that supply all the needed nutrients in one simple drink.
About the Author
more information on fruit and vegetable concentrates at http://vitanetonline.com/ where one can find a large selection of powdered supplements to help improve health.
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