A Colorful Life Deserves a Colorful Plate

We spend a lot of time these days documenting colorful experiences on social media. In fact, the past few years of valuing experience over possessions has led to a full-scale push against the limitations of the pandemic. Many want large gatherings, colorful actions and over-the-top fun!

To live your fullest, it makes sense to guard your health. And good health begins with good nutrition.

One of the simplest ways to keep your diet healthy is to fill your plate with fresh foods of many colors. This was my grandmother’s rule. And it’s echoed by nutritionists.

The phytochemicals that give foods their color also provide nutrients, prevent disease, fight inflammation, and mitigate pain. Eating a rainbow of colors can have the following effects:

Red. Eating red foods can support the circulatory system, the brain, and help with cholesterol levels. Stock up on tomatoes, radishes, and strawberries. Then add some tart cherries for pain reduction. And don’t forget red chili peppers, red bell peppers, and raspberries.

Orange. Oranges, carrots and sweet potatoes help boost immunity. And my grandmother used to say carrots would help you see better at night. They can, in fact, add some protection for your eyes and bones.

Yellow. Peaches, pineapple, and bananas make a delicious smoothie that will boost immunity and may improve blood sugar levels and even insulin sensitivity as long as the banana is not yet ripe.

Green. Leafy greens are packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber. They can help lower blood pressure, keep cholesterol in check, and help protect against heart disease and stroke. And there are so many options – spinach, kale, collards, mustard greens, arugula, lettuce, Swiss chard, and watercress. Of course you’ll want to avoid spinach if you have histamine intolerance.

Blue. Blueberries are my favorite blue food. (Actually, huckleberries are my favorite, but they’re hard to come by.) I try to keep blueberries on hand. They’re a great complement to yogurt, oatmeal, and ice cream. I tend to just eat them by the handful as a snack that helps lower my risk of cancer while possibly improving my memory.

Indigo. Blackberries are another berry I prefer to consume by the handful. I never think about the fact that they may be helping me age better while improving my memory and preventing heart disease and cancer. I just enjoy their sweet, tangy juiciness.

Violet. Eggplant, purple cabbage, and plums are great choices. (Avoid the eggplant if you’re histamine intolerant.) Plums have even been touted as a new superfood with more antioxidants than blueberries and isatin that helps regulate digestion system function.

If nothing here is on your favorite list, don’t worry, just choose something else in the same color range or a white food like cauliflower. A multicolor plate looks as good as it tastes. There’s really no going wrong.

Consistently eating a variety of colors will mean an essentially healthy diet without lots of reading, studying, and calculating. Your body deserves the support so you’ll have more time to get out and live a colorful life.

Promote Calmness Through Food

It’s a good day to promote calmness through food. For lots of people in my state, it’s a hard day to be calm. Our basketball team plays in the Elite Eight tonight. They’ve been a bit of a heart attack team in the tournament so far, making it impossible to calmly lounge on the couch and watch. Could the snacks we choose for the game help quell our anxiety?

I’m not going to pretend that only a handful of almonds tonight will slow our heartbeats when we’re trailing by 10. That’s not how wellness through food generally works. But skipping the sugary, carb-filled food and beverages can help diminish the jittery feeling caused by fluctuating blood sugar levels.

That doesn’t mean you have to go snack free to reduce anxiety. A handful of crunchy raw almonds or sunflower seeds will provide magnesium. Magnesium deficiency has been shown to increase anxiety-related behaviors.

Spinach is also a source of magnesium as are Swiss chard, legumes, other seeds and nuts, and whole grains. You may not want to eat a spinach salad during the game, but spinach dip could hit the spot. You could even serve it with bean-based tortilla chips.

Some experts recommend foods rich in B vitamins to reduce anxiety. That makes guacamole another great gameday snack food. Or serve layer dip with beans, sour cream, guacamole, salsa, cheese, green onions, and tomatoes.

Pickles are probiotics that have been linked to lower social anxiety. A plate of crunchy dill pickles will be a welcome addition to your coffee table fare.  Another option is pickled asparagus. You’ll get probiotic benefits coupled with the anti-anxiety properties of asparagus.

And while you’re gathering snacks, don’t forget one of our family favorites – deviled eggs. Foods rich in zinc, like eggs, have also been linked to lower levels of anxiety.

Gluten-free diet followers will be pleased to learn that low anxiety dessert is in the offing. Buckwheat and quinoa are high in magnesium as well as B vitamins. And dark chocolate provides both magnesium and antioxidants. More antioxidants can mean less anxiety. A buckwheat chocolate cookie sweetened with dates, honey, or coconut crystals is the perfect dessert combination for game day.

If you don’t have time to bake, a bowl of fresh berries topped with a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg is a refreshing addition to an antioxidant-filled menu.

And when it’s not game day, all of these foods will still help reduce anxiety. Many are effective for lessening depression as well.

A balanced diet filled with fresh food and plenty of water will give your body the support it needs to function properly. This can go a long way toward building physical and mental and emotional resiliency. I need to get started snacking now so that I’ll have the stamina to watch the game…calmly.

Cherries pack a huge healthy punch in a tiny, delicious package!

Life may not be just a bowl of cherries, but don’t forget to put some on your plate!

cherries

I love it when the grocery store is filled with fresh cherries. My favorite ones are the Bing variety. I also like the variegated Rainier cherries, but given the choice, I always pick Bing. Luckily, I pick them often.

Sweet or tart, cherries are filled with good things like vitamin C and potassium. They also contain boron – a mineral that is used for building strong bones, treating osteoarthritis, as an aid for building muscles and increasing testosterone levels, and for improving thinking skills.

And the goodness doesn’t stop there. Those delicious little morsels contain melatonin – a free-radical scavenger and wide-spectrum antioxidant that is sometimes beneficial to those with autism. Some studies indicate that melatonin may act as an anti-aging agent (perhaps because of its phytoestrogen properties), it increases REM sleep time, and it may help some women stave off type 2 diabetes. Whew! That’s quite a healthy punch to pack in a such a tiny package.

But wait, there’s more…I know, I feel like one of those cheesy infomercials, but there really IS more. According to research from Michigan State University, tart red cherries have an anti-inflammatory benefit that can relieve pain more effectively than aspirin. Lead researcher Muraleedharan G. Nair, Ph.D., Professor at Michigan State University College of Agriculture & Natural Resources, notes about this cherry effect, “It is as good as ibuprofen and some of the nonsteriodal anti-inflammatory drugs.” This is great news for those of us who have pain, but cannot tolerate the effects of ibuprofen.

Another study from University of California at Davis found that regular consumption of cherries for 28 days produced a decrease in biochemical signs of inflammation in the blood including the marker that indicates increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

After years of feeling absolutely miserable due to inflammation, I always feel grateful to learn about simple dietary changes that can relieve discomfort and lessen my risk for heart disease and arthritis. Without even realizing it, I’ve been choosing an incredibly healthy food just because I love the way it tastes. That’s some serendipity I can get behind. How ’bout you?

 

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

References:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leo-galland-md/cherry-season-fight-pain-_b_844654.html

http://www.doctoroz.com/blog/kristin-kirkpatrick-ms-rd-ld/if-you-only-go-one-super-fruit-it

http://en.wikipedia.org