How could a plate containing the six colors of the spectrum contribute to a healthy lifestyle?
Cardiologists have prescribed a “diet of color”—combined with exercise and a positive attitude—to shake off the holiday indulgence and extra belly fat merrymakers gained during the holiday season.
Dr. Willie Ong, a fellow of the Philippine Heart Association, said the “rainbow diet” could help the body heal from the overindulgence of sugary and fat-laden food, and nourish it with a wide range of nutrients it needs.
The “rainbow diet” is basically a plateful of a motley of fruits and vegetables with the key color groups—the deep red, bright orange, yellow or light green, dark green, rich blue and purple and white, Ong said.
“There is actually some correlation between the bright colors of fruits and veggies, and the nutrients they contain,” he said.
Rich red food such as apples, watermelon, strawberries and tomatoes are packed with nutrients that are good for the heart, brain and the prostate gland for men. Some of these nutrients are lycopene, ellagic acid, quercetin and hesperidin, Ong said.
Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables such as carrots, pineapple, papaya and sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, lycopene, vitamin C, potassium and flavanoids, which are good for the eyes, skin, lungs and the immune system.
Broccoli, avocados and other green food, which are good for digestion, help lower bad cholesterol, prevent obesity and reduce the risk of cancer. Green fruits and vegetables are potent sources of fiber, lutein, potassium, calcium, folate and vitamins A, B and C.
Blue and purple food like grapes and eggplants are rich sources of antioxidants, which boost the immune system and cut the risk of heart diseases and cancers while white fruits such as potatoes and garlic are good for the kidneys, muscles and the nerves.
Ong said that to stay healthy, an average adult should regularly eat a rainbow meal consisting of four to five servings or two cups each of fruits and vegetables.
Not just cost, taste
“So the next time you buy fruits and vegetables, don’t just ask about the cost and taste. Choose the brightly colored food for good health,” he said.
Dr. Anthony Leachon, a cardiologist and the president of the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) Foundation, said eating healthy food should be complemented by daily exercise for at least 30 minutes to an hour daily.
“Shedding pounds or weight reduction is a function of calories in and calories out,” Leachon said, noting that the ideal calorie intake for women is 1,500 per day and 2,000 for men.
“You will lose one pound per week if calories lost is at least 3,500 calories per week or 500 calories per day,” he said.
While some people enroll in a gym to put pressure on themselves to work out, losing weight need not be expensive, he said, adding that brisk walking for 30 minutes to an hour is enough to burn around 300 calories.
Sticking to a “no junk food” diet and eating more fruits and vegetables, fish and lean meat, such as chicken without the skin, are also simple and inexpensive ways to shed the extra fats gained during the holidays and to achieve better health this year, he said.
“Try to have a positive thinking process. Stop overthinking and learn to destress by not committing to a lot of unnecessary meetings,” Leachon said, adding that several studies show that positive thinking improves eating habits, thus contributing to weight loss.