Why are there so many songs about rainbows
And what’s on the other side
Rainbows are visions
But only illusions
And rainbows have nothing to hide
~ Kermit the Frog, The Rainbow Connection
We have to agree with Kermie (although rainbows are more than illusions because they can be photographed). Rainbows are beautiful and worth singing about.
Rather than waiting for the right formula to happen in nature, we can enjoy seeing them on our plates.
When plants have a rich colour, it’s a sign of phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are what give plants their colours, tastes and smells.
Pronounced ‘fight-o-nutrients’, they do just that, they help plants fight off damage from insects, animals, diseases and damaging UV light. What little bug wants to bite into the intensity of grapefruit skin? Would you?
In our bodies, phytonutrients do a lot of fighting too. They pack a mean punch against cardiovascular disease, cancer, inflammation, obesity and many chronic diseases. They boost immune, heart, eye and skin health, and act as antioxidants to prevent premature ageing.
To maximize your phytonutrient intake, reach for brightly coloured foods with intense smells and aromas. Remember that phytonutrients will be highest in plants who have to defend themselves (not ones who have chemicals sprayed on them to do their fighting for them!), so choose organic and wild foods whenever possible.
Some phytonutrients even increase when they’re cooked, like lycopene in tomatoes. Others are more bio-available when they’re fermented, like indoles (a class of phytochemicals associated with cancer prevention) found in foods like turnips and cabbage.
So let’s get creatively colourful in the kitchen:
Red food phytonutrients include lycopene, ellagic acid, quercetin, hesperidin and anthocyanin. Great for heart health and cancer prevention. Reach for beets, tomatoes, apples, cherries, pomegranate, melon and raspberries.
Orange & Yellow
Orange and Yellow foods contain carotenes, lutein, hesperidin and lignans. Amazing for eyes, skin, balancing hormones and building strong bones. Look for papayas, mangos, bell peppers, peaches, melon, squash, sweet potato, flax seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, lentils, and brightly coloured citrus fruits (use the rind where the deepest colour is!).
Purple & Blue
Purple and Blue mean resveratrol, anthocyanidins, phenolics and flavonoids. These promote a healthy brain, fight cancer and prevent premature ageing. Add in berries, grapes, eggplant, purple carrots and plums.
Green foods are rich in lutein, isoflavones, indoles, isothiocyanates and sulforaphane to boost liver and lung function and protect DNA from damage. Try broccoli, bitter leafy greens, dark herbs, avocado, kiwis and green tea.
White foods are rich in allicin, quercetin, indoles and glucosinates. These are amazing for cardiovascular health, liver detoxification, alleviating allergies and healthy joints. Look for onion, garlic, cauliflower, pears, mushrooms and white beans.
This is just a small smattering of phyto-power. Scientists have identified over 8000 phytonutrients, with some individual plants containing over 1000!
Let your eyes, nose and tongue guide you to the vibrant aromas of these super-nutrients to create that beautiful rainbow.
There might not be gold at the end of it, but there could be incredible health, which is priceless.