The Autoimmune Disease Series
This blog is all about the sheer power of phytonutrients. The compounds that give your food its colour. Plants contain more than 100,000 phytonutrients, a reason that we are recommended to eat 9 servings (yes) per day. Plants contain 64 times more phytonutrients on average, than animal foods.
My advice today is to eat as many colours as you can each and everyday. Because with each colour comes a specific benefit.
The life restoring effects of these colourful compounds in your body can vary considerably; from anti cancer compounds and hormone balancing functions to protection against cell damage through antioxidant properties. There appears to be a synergistic effect of combining colours.
Phytonutrients are loaded with health promoting goodness. For example they:
- generate optimal cell function and help cells to communicate better with each other,
- facilitate more efficient enzyme production
- prevent mutations at a cellular level,
- are anti-inflammatory,
- offer potent antioxidants
- many have functions we are only beginning to understand.
- They help prevent cancer, heart disease and most chronic diseases in general, are anti-aging and boost the immune system.
- help to form healthier tissues and systems in the body
- are potent detoxifiers
It means that when choosing food in the supermarket it can be worth paying the extra for red onions and purple broccoli, as well as ensuring that you throw apricots and blackberries into your basket along with the usual apples.
Take advantage of the seasons and rotate your colours around according to the produce available locally at the time – there is plenty of purple in the winter with purple cabbage, without the need for blueberries all year round for example.
Some phytonutrients, such as beta carotene need fat to be consumed, one good reason to eat carrots in a salad drizzled with olive oil.
Boiling and pressure cooking foods seems to harm the levels of phytonutrients compared to other cooking methods.
Beetroots and then red bell peppers are jam packed with phytonutrients offering the highest levels of antioxidant levels of vegetables.
Some phytonutrients benefit from the vegetable being lightly cooked, steamed kale will make some phytonutrients more available to the body.
So to be more specific:
Eat red foods primarily for their carotenoids and lycopene. These phytonutrients help to keep your heart and circulatory system healthy. They aid memory function and protect against some cancers and helps with urinary tract health. Think beetroots, cherries, radish, kidney beans, cranberries, tomatoes and watermelon.
Find room for Orange and Yellow in your diet as they contain carotenoids and lutein which boost the immune system, help with your heart health and are also good for vision. Beta carotene is the most well-known carotenoid, wonderfully also attributed to increasing attractiveness through its production of a rosy glow to your skin.
Found in: Carrots, yellow peppers, butternut squash, apricots, Cantaloupe melon, grapefruit, yellow beets, yellow pears.
Bring on the Greens as fantastic sources of lutein and zeaxanthin. These have been shown to lower the risk of some cancers, protect against heart disease, maintain vision, critically helping to protect against glaucoma, the second leading cause of blindness, cataracts and macular degeneration. Greens also protect against birth defects. They keep blood cells, bones and teeth strong. Broccoli contains another phytonutrient, sulforaphane which also happens to be the most powerful natural inducer of our liver’s detoxifying enzyme system.
Try to eat plenty of Artichokes, asparagus, avocados, broccoli, cucumbers, green beans, green peppers, kale, kiwi, celery, and spinach.
Blue and purple colours in food contain flavonoids and anthocyanins. These can reduce the risk of some cancers and promote healthy aging. They can improve urinary tract function and memory function and are also great for heart health. Purple grape juice has been recognised for its phenolenic phytonutrients which make it the strongest contender in terms of protection against Alzheimers.
Look out for: Blueberries, plums, blackberries, black beans, aubergines, elderberries, purple cabbage, purple grapes and raisins.
White and Brown foods offer sulfur compounds which are important detoxifiers. This will lower toxicity in your body and maintain you heart and circulatory system. It will also offer cancer protection.
Bananas, black-eyed peas, cauliflower, dates, figs, garlic, butterbeans, mushrooms, onions and nuts.
The phytonutrients in flax seeds help our body in the formation of lignans, greatly benefiting our all important gut flora.
So there you have it.
Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain
and I hope that you find your pot of gold.