Color Your Life with Colorful Plate—For the National Nutrition Month

March has been the National Nutrition Month since 1980, and it is a annul campaign for nutrition education and intervention. Stemmed from the “My plate”, a healthy eating reminder released by USDA last year, the theme for March 2012 is “Get your plate in shape.” For more information of NNM, please visit http://www.eatright.org/nnm/

A great family, a great school, a great job, and a great beloved give you a happy life. Have you ever think your diet can also color your life, make you healthier and protect you from diseases? Let’s get acquainted a colorful diet and see its magic.

Air pollution, smoking, and unhealthy diet generate free radicals in body that can cause severe diseases. Antioxidants protect body against free radicals, which can damage cell membrane, DNA, and molecules; many studies of antioxidants proved their common function in preventing heart disease, certain cancer, and premature aging. Fruits and vegetables are colorful since many of them are packed with abundant antioxidant substances of diverse colors—to be specific, these antioxidants are called phytochemicals. Different phytochemicals display different colors—orange, red, purple, white and green. Other than their common functions, they actually undertake specific tasks for your body.

Orange: sharpen your eyesight

Phytochemical: Carotenoid—food sources: carrot, kiwi, corn, pumpkin

Color orange has powerful antioxidant activities fighting against free radicals in our body. Besides, lutein, a kind of thousands different carotenoid, come help maintain your eye health. Macula is a special area responsible for central vision in retina; studies have found high concentration of lutein in this area and they can prevent damage of free radicals, thus decrease the chance of eye disease such as macular degeneration and cataract.

Red: protect your prostate

Phytochemical: Lycopene—food source: tomato

Lycopene is only found in tomato and its protection on prostate is also unique. Lycopene concentrates in prostate and help prevent free radicals damage on DNA of prostate cells. It is proven to be helpful in prostatitis and prominently prevent prostatoplasia and prostate cancer. But don’t think it just works for men; lycopene can prevent premature aging then also help women maintain their young face.

 Purple: guard your heart

Phytochemical: anthocyanin—food sources: grape, prune, eggplant

Anthocyanin majorly acts on cardiovascular system through relaxing blood vessels and improving blood circulations. It can also inhibit blood clotting thereby preventing stroke and heart failure. Interestingly, red wine has a high concentration of anthocyanin; however, the benefits of drinking red wine for a healthier heart still need further research.

White: soothe your belly

Phytochemicals: allicin—food source: garlic

The strong flavor of garlic is from allicin. Its prominent function on human is antibiotic and antifungal within the digestive system. Allicin can prolong the time of vitamins in our body and increase their absorptions. Though not proven in human, research suggests potential effect of allicin in reduing fat deposition and fat balance as a possible substance used in weight control in the future.

Green: save you liver

phytochemical: sulforahpane—food sources: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage

Sulforahpane is suggested of liver detoxication stimulant that helps the liver degrade toxic substances generated in the body. It is also prominent for cancer prevention.

Though you could have your favorite color in your childhood painting class, as to a healthy diet, don’t eat exclusively on specific color since different kind of fruits and vegetables can collaborate and achieve the best benefits. The best way to dining is to make your plate with at least 3 colors each meal with a combination of different veggies and fruits; of course, eat at less 5 portions a day!

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