The Signature of Colour in Our Foods: Yellow – Red
By Hwaa Irfan
We can get lost in the beauty a colour emits, and how it makes us feel whether it attracts us or we are repulsed by it. Yet, colour is one signature of food that we shouldn’t take for granted, if we really concerned about maintaining a healthy balanced diet. Colour in life, as opposed to the artificial colours we as humans use to create things, are but forms of light energy transformed into a visual display that is receptive to our brains which possesses domains of visual memory set up to discern different colours. Each colour is a particular wave of energy that we are receptive to, and each wave of energy has a particular potential.
In the whole foods we may or may not eat are signatures of nature that give us a clue to its human benefit, and colour is one of those signatures.
Orange – All shades of orange from yellow – red tell us that carotenoids (alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin, and lycopene, which are present in foods like carrots, most citrus fruits, mangoes, papayas, peppers, pineapples, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, watermelon, yellow yam etc. One should also include dark leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, after all green is a combination of blue and yellow.
All carotenoids when consumed by the human body converts to retinol ( a form of vitamin A), which possesses strong antioxidant properties, and promotes intercellular communication. Carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin are present in the retina and lens of the eyes, but lutein, lycopene, and zeaxanthin does not convert to retinol in the human body. Lutein, and zeaxanthin absorbs blue light.
Carotenoids are best absorbed by the human body when consumed with fat. One should not look to supplements to compensate for what can only best obtained from whole foods. Studies have shown that the taking of beta-carotene supplements by those with lung cancer actually increases the risk of lung cancer by 16 – 28% within the first six years when taken at 50mg every two days. The U.S. Preventive Health Services Task Force found no evidence in the benefit of taking beta-carotene supplements offsets the risk of cardio-vascular disease, and there is no solid evidence that beta-carotene supplements off-sets the likelihood of contracting cataract.
The ability to absorb Carotenoids is reduced by the consumption of mineral oils, cholesterol-lowering agents, drug to counter obesity (Orlistat/Xenical), drug to counter gout (Colchicine), and drugs that increase the gastric pH level like Omeprazole /Prilosec/Losec), Lansoprazole/Prevacid, Rabeprazole/Aciphex, and Pantoprazole/Protonix/Pantoloc. High consumption of alcohol also reduces absorption of Carotenoids.
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