A simple nutritional concept that will keep your heart healthy.
If you wrote down all the different foods you ate throughout the week, what would you see?
A repetition of the same foods and little variety OR various coloured fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, legumes, which display all the colours of the rainbow?
There are 2 main reasons why as a Naturopath I recommend as much whole food variety as possible:
1. The more varied your diet is, the more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants you are getting. Sticking to the same few foods may leave you susceptible to nutritional deficiencies.
2. For optimum microbiome (beneficial bacteria) health. Our good bacteria thrive on a varied diet and yes, the microbiome does have a link with cardiovascular health!
Different coloured fruits and veg contain different phytochemicals. An example of what you find in various coloured fruits and veg is as follows:
Red (tomato, capsicum, berries) = lycopene. As well as being important for men who are at risk or who have prostate cancer, lycopene has also shown to have protective effects for the vascular system.
Orange & yellow (sweet potato, carrots, pumpkin) = alpha and beta carotene, which is needed for our body to make vitamin A (which in its active form is only found in animal products). If you are following a highly plant-based diet for heart health, your intake of these coloured foods is essential.
Purple/blue (berries, grapes, plums) = resveratrol. Resveratrol possesses strong antioxidant activity, which in turn reduces inflammation & is highly important for cardiovascular health.
Green (kale, spinach, watercress, zucchini etc) = fibre & folate. Fibre is essential for gut health, but also has the ability to reduce raised cholesterol levels. Folate can reduce homocysteine levels (a type of amino acid), that is damaging to the heart vessel walls if it is in the body in large quantities.
Now the above is just a very simplified example. Each type of coloured fruit or veg has multiple nutritional phytochemicals and they all work together in a beautifully synergistic way.
This is another reason why, if you can get in your whole foods, do that, rather than rely on supplements.
Next time you look down at your plate- can you add any other coloured fruit or veg? What foods can you add to have all the colours of the rainbow?