The Power of Color
What are phytochemicals?
Phytochemicals are substances in plants which promote health in three important ways:
(1)Acting as powerful antioxidants; (2) Reducing inflammation; and (3) Detoxifying the body. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage our cells, leading to heart disease, cancer, cataracts, premature aging and a variety of other conditions. Antioxidants have the power to dramatically decrease the damage caused by free radicals in our bodies, thereby decreasing our risk for disease.
Many bright red fruits and vegetables, such as raspberries, cranberries, tomatoes, cherries, red peppers, red grapes, beets, red onions and pomegranates contain phytochemicals such as anthocyanins, lycopenes and/or carotenoids, which deliver a strong antioxidant punch!
Carrots, sweet potatoes, yellow potatoes, pumpkins, squash, apricots, bananas, oranges, mangoes and cantaloupe all contain carotenoids, which are potent antioxidants. Other orange-yellow foods offer additional healing properties, such as yellow corn (good for eye health) and turmeric (effective for treating and/or preventing inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and cancer due to antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties).
Green vegetables, especially spinach, avocados, asparagus, artichokes, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, watercress and green tea are packed with chlorophyll, beta-carotene and/or lutein, all powerful antioxidants. These foods are also good for skin health and most contain significant amounts of fiber, which is important for heart and digestive health, reducing cholesterol and preventing colon cancer.
What could be better than eating a handful of blackberries in the middle of summer? This fruit, along with blueberries, concord grapes, raisins, eggplant, plums and red wine all contain anthocyanins, yet another heavy-hitting antioxidant that guards against heart disease and cancer, and helps to lower cholesterol.
Chocolate, coffee and tea, and Stout beer contain high concentrations of antioxidants. Use in moderation.
Rounding out your plate
One cannot live on fruits and veggies alone! Balancing your diet with nuts and seeds (e.g. walnuts, almonds, pecans, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds), fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna), healthy oils (olive, walnut, flax) and lean meats will also help you to achieve wellness, decrease inflammation, increase your energy and prevent disease. Lastly, spices, herbs and aromatics (e.g. turmeric, cinnamon, pepper, oregano, thyme, rosemary, parsley, basil, garlic, onion, ginger).
Start your morning with a GREEN DRINK! Here is a recipe (feel free to change it up based on what fruit is in season):
1/2 apple or pear (substitute berries, apricots, plums, cherries, etc. when in season)
Generous handful of greens (chard, kale and spinach work well)
1/2 – 3/4 cup parsley (small stems are fine)
1 small slice (~1/4 tsp) peeled ginger (add more if you like the flavor)
1-2 sprigs fresh mint
1 – 2 tsp ground flaxseed or hempseed
~3/4 – 1 cup water
Blend all ingredients on high until smooth. Enjoy!
This week’s blog was written by Steph and Geoff. For other recipes, check out Steph’s website at www.nutritionhousecalls.com.