Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Going Green, its not just an Environmental Thing (colors of food)

   As one who loves photography, artistic endeavors, the explosion of Spring and the burst of fall foliage, I love color. I enjoy what it does to my photographs, on a canvas and yes, even on my plate. I am much more interested in eating and eating better if the meal before me is aesthetically pleasing. An important note here is that not only are colorful foods more pleasing to look at, they are good for you. Each color represents different nutrients held within. In an earlier posting I discussed red foods, today is obviously green, so lets go green shall we?

In the process of doing the research for this particular writing the same phenomenon happened that usually happens. I was finding so many interesting pieces of information that I was having too much fun searching and forgetting that I was supposed to be writing. Learning however, is never a bad thing, especially when we are talking about what can help you be a healthier individual. One thing realized, while the sight of green mold on your food is not pleasing to see, most green foods are good to see... on your plate.

 Green  leafy foods, contain chlorophyll, something many of us learned in high school science class. This gives food their green color. There is a wide variety of nutrients to be found in green fruits and vegetables. Among the many nutrients, green leafy plants contain phytochemicals, compounds that help fight disease. Rich in fiber they help lower cholesterol, keep you feeling full longer, lower blood pressure and help with the slowing of absorption of carbohydrates.

I'll admit it, I love a good salad, especially one that I make here in my own kitchen. I know what I've chopped up in there.  Especially if I have grown my own vegetables or have green thumbed friends who share. That being said, let's build our own green salad bar.
 My husband is a die hard iceberg lettuce man, I will eat iceberg, but I know that Romaine is better. While Iceberg contains very few beneficial nutrients, Romaine contains five that helps promote better health. The five are fiber, folate - a B-vitamin; Cartenoids- an antioxidant; Vitamin C and Saponins- phytochemicals found in green leafy vegetables.
With those big bowls of lettuce filled lets start on the other smaller containers, we have a lot to fill as I love a salad filled with a variety of good things. Take cucumber, I have been known to eat more than my share of cucumber, especially if it is fresh picked from the garden. My love for cucumber was always based on taste, now I have more reasons to enjoy this favorite. Cucumber according to the web site contain lariciresinol, pinoresinol and secoisolariciresinol. These are three lignans that research has shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease as well as several cancer types.
 Bell Pepper is next. While I enjoy all the colors of bell pepper and they all go in, we're discussing green. The green bell peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C containing more than found in an average orange. Green peppers also contain vitamin E and the antioxidant mineral manganese.
After that are the Brussels sprouts, small, but packs a heavy punch. The many nutrients in Brussels sprouts support three body systems. The detox system, its antioxidant system, and its inflammatory/ anti-inflammatory system. Providing many vitamin antioxidants such as vitamin C, E, and A.
Broccoli, steamed, broccoli can provide some cholestrol lowering benefits. Raw broccoli has this ability, but less so. It has a positive impact on the body's detoxification system. With vitamin A and K broccoli helps keep vitamin D levels in balance. Has unique anti-inflammatory benefits. Its many different nutrients and properties make eating broccoli a good cancer prevention strategy.
Kale: packed with vitamins A and C, folic acid, iron and calcium.
Honeydew melon: Good source of vitamin C.
Peas: contains, fiber, protein, iron, zinc, potassium and folate.
Avocados: VitaminC, K, folate, potassium,the antioxidant lutein and monounsaturated fat.
Kiwi: More vitamin C than any other fruit. High in fiber, potassium, and vitamin E.
Limes: Antioxidants including flavonol glycosides that help prevent hardening if the arteries and help fight cancer. 
Asparagus: Excellent source of folate and thiamin, fiber, iron, vitamin C and beta-carotene.
Artichokes: Vitamin C, folate and potassium.

The list could go on and on as there are many good "green" foods out there. Whole and natural foods that help the body and help our health. It is too easy to fall into the trap of convenience when it comes to using processed food products. Most of which anything actually nutritious has been removed. When you use natural foods that are not laden with chemicals or modified, then your health can improve. They provide a multitude of nutrients, that improve body functions, cut down on inflammation, help prevent cancer, help blood sugar and cholesterol levels, help with digestion, and more.
 I know from experience that once we are caught in the processed foods trap it is a difficult one to escape from. Ripping open a box, tossing the "meal" into a microwave and then presto- we have dinner convenience is much easier than taking raw vegetables and slowly from scratch preparing dinner. Better health though is worth it, well worth it.
 Once my cholesterol levels began to creep up a couple of years ago I pretty much stopped purchasing most processed foods. I do purchase frozen pizzas because I haven't bothered to try and make my own...yet. That is next on my list..I could start by learning how to prepare a spinach pizza..its green..
 Kermit the frog said "it isn't easy being green" and yes, sometimes it isn't easy eating and living a green lifestyle. But once a healthier way of life is adopted, one can and does adjust, and is all the better for it. I know that I feel much better, and I have less fears of my cancer returning.

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