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Brighten up meal times.

WE'VE always been told that eating our greens is good for us.

But now it appears that munching your way through your reds, oranges, yellows and blues can also help you to have a healthier life.

US diet specialists even believe that brightening up your plate with a splash of colour can help you fight disease and have dubbed the nutritional plan the Rainbow Diet.

For years, nutritionists have concentrated on the same old essential nutrients - vitamins A, C, E and calcium and iron.

But researchers have discovered a new category of disease-combating substances that may prevent cancer and heart disease - phytochemicals.

These tiny protective particles are found in the pigment of plants.

Cyndi Thomson, a clinical nutrition research specialist at the University of Arizona and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, hit upon the idea of encouraging the new eating habits while shopping.

She explained: "I looked down at my trolley and realised how pretty food looks.

"I thought `Ah, it's like eating the rainbow' and that seems so appealing."

Follow our guide to phytochemical-rich plants to get the most from your food.

RED

THE blush tones in tomatoes and pink grapefruits indicate the presence of lycopene. This has greater potential for fighting cancer than the more commonly- known beta-carotene.

While most phyto-chemicals are more abundant in raw food, cooking concentrates lycopene.

That means tomato-based sauces, such as ketchup and pizza sauces, are full of this important disease- buster.

FOUND IN: Tomatoes, watermelons, pink grapefruit, ketchup.

ORANGE

SWEET potatoes, yams and carrots are full of beta-carotene.

There's only a small amount of beta-carotene in oranges, but citrus fruits do contain such cancer fighters as flavonoids, limonene and lots of other phytochemicals.

FOUND IN: Pumpkins, carrots, yams.

YELLOW

WHEN produce glows with the sunshine colour, it can mean that carotenes are also present.

The bright peel of lemons is a surprising source. The rinds contain limonene, which is being studied as a possible protective against breast cancer.

To make good use of these chemical-packed skins, grate the peel into breads and muffins or straight onto a salad.

FOUND IN: Lemon and grapefruit peels, squash and peppers.

GREEN

GREEN is associated with the powerful cancer- preventing indoles found in broccoli, sprouts and cauliflower.

Polyphenols, which may help to prevent skin, esophageal and prostate cancers, give green tea and artichokes their tinge.

Dark leafy greens also contain carotenes.

FOUND IN: Broccoli, sprouts, green tea and artichokes.

BLUE/PURPLE

CURRANTS, red onions, prunes and plums contain plenty of the ubiquitous flavonoids.

Blueberries also have polyphenols in their membranes, which may cut your cancer risk.

Dark-skinned grapes contain ellagic acid, which is also good for preventing heart disease and cancer.

FOUND IN: Currants, purple onions, aubergines, plums.

WHITE

SEVERAL pale plants provide powerful doses of phytochemicals.

Onions, garlic and leek contain allyl sulfides and are associated with lowering cholesterol, blood pressure and cancer risk.

Tofu and other soybean-based foods have genistein, which may reduce the symptoms of menopause.

FOUND IN: Onions, garlic, leek, tofu.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Barr, Linda
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 18, 1999
Words:500
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