I always get asked the question, “What food or eating practice would change peoples’ health most dramatically?” My answer is always the same: “Eat colorful plant foods of the rainbow variety!”
Many people give the immediate response, “Everyone knows that you have to eat more fruits and vegetables, so tell me what I don’t already know.” or “I don’t need a study to tell me to eat more vegetables!”
Of course, they are right.
But what most people miss is the complexity of plants and how to use them as medicine. After all, the typical diet provides more than 25,000 bioactive food constituents. They don’t all work the same way, and their natural colors may provide some insight on their functions.
A report from Nutrilite came out in 2009 that revealed that most people have what is called a “phytonutrient gap”: 8 out of 10 people are not getting their full rainbow variety of colors, and this has great implications for their health.
There are ways to eat smarter and to get to know how to best use plant foods for your personalized health. It appears from some research studies that certain colors of food may be good for specific conditions. Most people are not aware of the importance of color when selecting their food.
Here are some findings of those studies:
- WHITE FOODS AND RISK FOR STROKE: Dutch researchers investigated which fruit and vegetable color groups contribute most to helping to reduce the incidence of stroke. It was a prospective, large study with over 20,000 people ages 20 to 65 years old. After 10 years of follow-up, they found that it was the white fruits and vegetables, more than green, orange/yellow, and red purple categories, that was most associated with reduced stroke incidence. “Higher intake of white fruits and vegetables was inversely associated with incident stroke. Each 25-g/d increase in white fruit and vegetable consumption was associated with a 9% lower risk of stroke. Apples and pears were the most commonly consumed white fruit and vegetables (55%).”
- COLORS OF FOOD AND CARDIOMETABOLIC RISK FACTORS: Another study, this one in Tehran, included 1,272 adults. They assessed their fruit and vegetable (FV) intake, anthropometrics, and lipid profile. What they found was astonishing! Here’s what they reported: “Consumption of green and white FV was inversely related to abdominal fat gain, and atherogenic lipid parameters in men. In women, higher intake of red/purple FV was associated to lower weight and abdominal fat gain, fasting serum glucose and total cholesterol; yellow FV was also related to 3-year weight gain.” In other words, the different colors of FV subgroups had different effects on cardiometabolic risk factors. All the more reason to eat the rainbow, and specific colors of the rainbow for specific effects!
- COLORS OF FOOD AND HEART HEALTH: The same Dutch researchers that investigated white foods and stroke also looked to see which fruit and vegetable color groups contribute to protection against coronary heart disease (CHD). They used the same cohort, which included more than 20,000 people, and followed them for 10 years. While they didn’t find any clear associations for the color groups separately, they identified that for each 25 gram increase of deep orange fruit and vegetables, there was a 26% lower association with CHD. Carrots were associated with a 32% lower risk of CHD.
If all this talk of the power of colorful foods has sparked your interest, considering joining the upcoming Whole Detox program starting September 22nd. During this online, community-based, 21-day detox program, you’ll learn how to harness the power of colorful foods and their phytonutrients for full-spectrum health.