We’ve been Dishing out holiday gifts all season long, now it’s time to treat our bodies with the same spirited generosity. Dr. Lisa Davis of Pressed Juicery’s Medical Board is talking us though a festive way to eat and drink healthier during the holidays – all we have to do is remember to eat the colors we see everywhere in December: red and green. Simple enough! Here’s the science behind this playful approach to serious nourishment…
Ever hear the phrase “eat your colors?” It’s not just a catch phrase: Science supports this advice. The natural compounds (phytochemicals) that support cell health are what give yellow, orange, purple, white, red and green fruits and veggies their luscious colors. In keeping with the two most festive colors of the winter holidays, here’s a closer look at the reds and the greens…
How Red + Green Enhance Our Health
Red and green plant-based foods add a few particular advantages:
Red foods, such as tomatoes and red peppers contain lycopene – a phytochemical that, according to the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine, may help prevent breast cancer, prostate cancer and others. Lycopene is an antioxidant, a substance that helps keep your cells free of oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is caused by free radicals – molecules that circulate around your system and cause your cells to wear out prematurely. Over time, that can mean a weakened immune system and premature aging. Antioxidants sweep up these free radicals and minimize their damage. Alpha and beta carotene are other antioxidants that give foods such as carrots and sweet potatoes their brilliant, red-orange color. The body breaks down these compounds to form the active form of vitamin A, key to healthy eyes, bones and immunity.
Green foods pack as many nutritional gifts as Santa’s sleigh. In those velvety dark, leafy greens such as spinach, chard and arugula, you get beta carotene as well as lutein and zeaxanthin — phytochemicals that help prevent age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in older people. Dark green cruciferous veggies like kale and broccoli give you indoles and isothiocyanates – compounds that amp up the production of enzymes that clear toxins from the body. Studies are exploring how a diet rich in insoles and isothiocyanates can prevent cancer.
Deck Your Plate to Feel More Jolly
Getting a good supply of antioxidants is especially important when the holidays are in full swing. A lot of people are dealing with busy schedules, lack of rest, skipped meals and trays full of refined sugar and other inflammatory foods. No wonder the holidays can leave you with a free-radical hangover!
Here’s a tip for holiday parties: Fill your plate halfway with red and green veggies (or any other color), and divide the other half between lean protein and whole grains. Once you’ve filled up on the healthy stuff, you can go for the treats, if you’re still inclined.
During the week, slicing up some red and green pepper, carrot sticks and broccoli florets and packing them into Ziploc bags, or other portable containers, can help ensure you get your colors when you’re making the holiday rounds.
Raise a Glass of Red+ Green Goodness
When the pace revs up and you’re racing from the airport to the office to the mall to your kids’ concerts and pageants, you may not have time to prepare a big salad of greens or a lovely tomato-rich main dish. For a cup of good cheer, try getting your inflammation-fighting colors of the season in juice form. Fresh-pressed juices can be a fast and tasty way to get the antioxidant power of red and green when you’ve got to grab and go. A vitamin-packed bottle of good juice in your car’s cup holder will likely do as much for your stamina as a large coffee, and without leaving you feeling wired and tired.
Imagine enjoying the holiday season and starting the New Year with happy memories, more energy and healthier cells: Think red and green, and eat (or drink) your colors all December long.
The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health related program.