No color, No Problem
Bland colored diets often have bland nutrient contents. As versatile as the color white (or off-white) can be, it doesn’t always scream health. In general, the average American diet is chock full of fast, cheap, processed foods high in refined grains, added sugars and solid fats. These off-white foods are overwhelming the aisles, pantries, and plates. They are also overwhelming blood sugar levels. The increased blood sugar from these foods triggers insulin to spike. In just 1-2 short hours, hunger returns and the vicious cycle repeats itself.
Should all white foods be “put in the same basket” though? Not necessarily. Although not in the color spectrum, foods the color white still carry numerous health benefits. Unprocessed foods such as white beans, white potatoes, garlic, turnips, Jerusalem artichokes and onion are white foods that fight.
As we await the discovery of more phytochemicals, ground-breaking research has led to the discovery of thousands with unique disease-fighting powers. These naturally-occurring chemicals protect essential nutrients in our bodies. They act as antioxidants and regenerate those essential nutrients. The unseen battle that phytochemicals fight inside our bodies protects our cell membranes and DNA while preventing cell death. They also prevent the damage and oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which can lead to plaque formation and heart disease.
Every food contains a unique blend of phytochemicals and nutrients (vitamins, minerals, fiber) that work synergistically to provide these health benefits. Although foods have multiple phytochemicals, many foods have a predominant phytochemical group, which is often revealed by the color of the food.
When we think of disease-fighting phytochemicals, we usually think of strong, vivid, vibrant hues of blue, red, or purple. However, some phytochemicals are colorless but just as potent. In fact, the largest phytochemical group, the flavonoids, is generally colorless. In his book “What Color is Your Diet,” David Heber, MD, PhD categorizes the color white-green as its own phytochemical group.
What white or white/green foods can you think of? Antioxidant-rich foods such as garlic, onion, celery, pears, jicama, chives, endive, and even white wine fall into this category. Here are a few reasons why they should be in your shopping cart.
Apigenin: Celery, onions, and chamomile are high in plant flavones called apigenin. This flavone has been shown to possess outstanding anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-carcinogenic properties. In fact, it is largely studied for its role in killing cancer cells.
Quercetin: Onions and shallots are high in a flavonol called quercetin. This safe and natural flavonol has remarkable antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. Because it reduces the production of prostaglandins, quercetin helps reduce some of the pain associated with inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. It prevents cancer by stopping the growth of cancer cells. It can even block many substances that are involved in allergies. A higher intake of quercetin can lower your risk of lung cancer, heart disease, and asthma.
Hesperetin: This flavanone is known to lower blood pressure, inflammation, and LDL cholesterol levels in animals.
Organosulfur compounds: When you think of garlic and onion, does a pungent smell first come to mind? A group of vegetables termed allium vegetables (including chives, leeks, garlic, onions, and shallots) have organosulfur compounds that are cancer-protective.
Allicin: One classic example of a colorless, yet potent food is garlic. The powerful aroma of freshly crushed garlic demonstrates the disease-fighting potential of this white food. Allicin, one of the main active chemicals in garlic, has anti-microbial activities. It has been shown to have anti-bacterial activity even for multi-drug resistant strains of E.coli. It offers anti-fungal protection against a strain of Candida, and anti-parasitic activity for common human intestinal parasites. Allicin also prevents the growth of cancer cells.
Indoles: Many white foods are cruciferous vegetables (such as cabbage and cauliflower) that contain indoles and isothiocyanatas that are also anti-cancer. Many different types of natural indoles work together to prevent cancer, such as colon cancer.
How to Eat Whiter than White
How do you plan to eat more white food? A simple way is to sneak more garlic and onion in your stir fries, soups, curries, and other dishes. Make your own reduced fat dressings infused with garlic. Use some cauliflower and parsnip or kohlrabi chunks for a creamy soup, add white- button mushrooms for an earthy flavor, or a small serving of mashed potatoes with olive oil (instead of butter).
If solid fats, sodium, and added sugars are added in the preparation of these white foods, you may have to kiss their health benefits goodbye. Enjoy them in their natural state or use minimal cooking to prepare these foods. Make sure to surround them with an array of other colors to add some spice and disease-fighting power to your meal.
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