The Taste Of The Mediterranean

Creating a life that is positively good for you...

STEP 2

BRINGING COLOUR TO YOUR TABLE
Take advantage of nature’s colourful gifts of strength

Tomatos

© 2010 Adam Poole

When shopping, think beautiful natural colour.

Many plants contain compounds that provide significant health benefits, and many of the bright colours in fruits and vegetables represent these so called “phytochemicals” which are believed to have many antioxidant effects. Such natural chemicals protect the body by neutralising “free radicals” or unstable molecules which can damage body tissue and lead to ill health, defending against cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Colourful foods are frequently rich in vitamins which are in themselves beneficial and have been known for many years to prevent ill health.

There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of these substances in our diet, and study of their effects is in its very early stages. It has long been accepted that the bright colours in seed containing fruits are an evolutionary means by which a plant attracts an animal to eat the fruit, and deposit the undigested seeds in a packet of fertiliser some distance away from its parent. There is a further suggestion that evolution might have favoured plants that have incorporated health giving properties into the chemistry of the fruit. After all, the mutually beneficial relationship between the plant and the animal would be further enhanced if the colours that attract the animal bestowed not only the gift of food, but also of medicine, to ensure the healthy survival of the creatures upon which the plant depends for its successful procreation and evolution.

And colour brings beauty and joy to any dish. Imagine if the food on our plate was entirely grey. Suppose it tasted the same, but was completely grey. Please do not hold that thought for long, because we are blessed with an array of colours that bring visual and tasteful delight to our table.

RED

Shop for red fruits and vegetables. These include:

  • Tomatoes
  • Red peppers
  • Strawberries
  • Red apples
  • Cherries
  • Red grapes
  • Red grapefruit
  • Cranberries
  • Watermelon
  • Red onions

The specific phytochemicals in many of these products include lycopenes and anthcyanins. As well as a possible role in heart health, a Harvard study has suggested possible benefits of lycopenes in prevention of cancer of the prostate.

BLUE

Shop for blue fruits and vegetables. These include:

  • Plums
  • Prunes
  • Purple grapes
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raisins
  • Eggplant
  • Purple cabbage

The specific phytochemicals in these products include anthocyanins and phenolics. These antioxidants may play a part in the prevention of cancers and heart disease by reducing cell damage.

GREEN

Shop for green fruits and vegetables. These include:

  • Lettuce
  • Watercress
  • Leeks
  • Cucumber
  • Leafy greens
  • Peas
  • Celery
  • Green cabbage
  • Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Sprouts
  • Avocados
  • Green apples
  • Green grapes
  • Limes
  • Pears

The specific phytochemicals in these products include lutein and indoles. Such compounds are believed to have anti cancer effects, and their consumption is considered to be associated with a lower risk of many types of cancers.

Salad© 2010 Adam Poole

ORANGE/YELLOW

Shop for orange and yellow fruits and vegetables. These include:

  • Sweetcorn
  • Yellow peppers
  • Carrots
  • Butternut squash
  • Watermelon
  • Apricots
  • Lemon
  • Grapefruit
  • Oranges
  • Pineapple
  • Mangoes
  • Apples
  • Yellow pears
  • Papaya

The specific phytochemicals in these products include carotenoids and bioflavanoids. Similar antioxidant properties to reduce risk of heart disease and cancer may be associated with these compounds.

WHITE AND BROWN

Other fruits and vegetables are thought to contain bioactive chemicals. For example ginger contains the antioxidant gingerol, onions and garlic contain allium which may help fight cancer and improve immunity, and dates are a particularly concentrated source of antioxidants.

In summary, preparing highly coloured nutritious salads and vegetables packs a punch of powerful vitamins and phytochemicals for which there is increasing evidence of protection against heart disease and cancers.

Next time you prepare a Saturday lunch or take sandwiches into work, spend a few minutes preparing an accompanying salad consisting of lettuce, tomatoes, red pepper, yellow pepper, olives, carrot, cucumber, onion, with an olive oil dressing (see step 3). This provides perhaps hundreds of compounds that promote health and well being.

What a glorious feast of colour and goodness!

Starter Dish© 2010 Adam Poole

STEP 2; The Bottom line- Colourful fruits and Vegetables are packed with goodies to prevent disease. Buy more, eat more.