The Color of Health

There was a news story I recently heard that involved a discussion around a water cooler. The point was brought up that a number of male birds, during mating season, flouted the color red in order to attract female birds.  The theory that hot colors give confidence to the male bird.

That prompted me to think about the color of various foods, and the effect on one’s health.  Scientists have been studying what are called “phytochemicals,”which are plant chemicals that are not classified as nutrients.  They do not give you energy; they do not build one’s body; nevertheless, evidence is mounting that they may perform important functions that help prevent major diseases.

By now most of us have read about beta carotene and its role in preventing some forms of cancer and particulary night blindness.   Beta carotene is a phytochemical that a member of the carrotenoid family, which are usually light yellow to red-orange in color.  This chemical is found in tomatoes, red and yellow bell peppers and carrots.

Lycopene is one of the carrotenoid family that gives tomatoes their red color.  This substance has been found to have a big role in preventing prostate cancer.

Flavonoids is a substance that gives a yellow color to vegetables and fruit, and is believed to play a major role in preventing heart disease.  All dark, leafy vegetables, such as spinach, parsley, and some beans contain flavonoids.

Indoles are phytochemical that is believed to block the damage to our DNA from carcinogens.  Indoles, are found in the crusiferous family, which include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, horseradish and mustard greens.

Capsaicin is found in hot peppers and believed to relieves the symptoms of arthritis.

The list goes on and on, and everday scientists are discovering more and more kinds of food chemical that plays key roles in preventing diseases and keeps one healthy.

We need to eat more fresh vegetables, fruit and beans to build our own health confidence.

Vegetables and Bean Salad

serves 6-8

1     cup cooked black beans

1     cup cooked red kidney beans

1     cup cooked garbanzo beans

1      red onion, chopped

1      red bell pepper, diced

1      cup finely chopped red cabbage

1     cup chopped  sun-dried tomatoes

1     cup chopped parsley

zest of one lemon

1/2  cup lemon juice

1/2  teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4   cup olive oil

salt to taste

-Soak the sun-dried tomatoes in hot water for ten minutes, drain and set on the side.

-In a large bowl, mix all the beans and the sun-dried tomatoes and half of the lemon juice.  Set aside.

-When ready to serve, toss all the vegetables with the lemon zest, the rest of the lemon juice, olive oil and the seasoning.

-Add the mixed beans, toss, adjust the seasoning and serve room temperature.

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