Do you ever look down at your plate and think, “Wow, this is so pretty!” If not, it’s time for you to add some more colors to your meal. Making a colorful meal is like painting a beautiful masterpiece. Your taste buds will start dancing because each color represents a different flavor profile. But the real reason we eat a color rich diet is because it often includes anti-cancer foods, with each color having different phytochemicals that could reduce cancer cell growth.
Plants with higher color content have higher anti-oxidant activity, and anti-oxidants can help inhibit cancer cell growth. Some of the colors you might want to focus on with anti-cancer foods in your menu are Red, White, and Blue.
Red: Red foods are a great source of LYCOPENE. Why is that nutrient so important? Well, eating 1 Tablespoon of tomato paste rich in lycopene has been shown in studies to reverse prostate cancer growth. Not only that, but lycopene could also reduce the progression of colon cancer. And for breast cancer, lycopene has been shown to reduce the influence of estrogen on cell growth.
Your best sources of lycopene include: tomatoes, strawberries, and watermelon.
White: Most of the time we are told to avoid white starchy vegetables, but the fact is that they contain important nutrients! You do want to be mindful of the sugar content, but white foods are generally rich in minerals like magnesium and potassium. They can also be a great source of quercetin, a plant chemical that helps the body stabilize the immune system. Quercetin has been studied for blocking cancer cell growth in sarcomas, lymphoma, leukemia, breast cancer, and many other cancer types.
Your best sources of white foods rich in quercetin: onions, garlic, white currants, and the inside of apples.
Blue (and Purple): Hurray for anthocyanins! At least that’s what your cells are saying when you eat blue and purple foods. In my practice, I recommend anti-cancer foods containing anthocyanins to patients looking to reduce inflammation, heal from surgery, and block blood vessel formation in cancer cells. If you block inflammation and blood vessels, you are blocking some of the main triggers for cancer growth! Anthocyanins seem to play an important role in lymphomas, colon cancer, and leukemia.
Another reason to love this color of food is resveratrol, which is stored in the skin of purple fruits and vegetables. Resveratrol has been studied with lots of different cancer types, including breast, lung, skin, prostate, and colon cancer.
Your best sources of blue and purple foods rich in anthocyanins and resveratrol: blackberries, blueberries, black grapes, Concord grapes, beetroot, blackcurrants, eggplant, purple plums, figs, prunes, raisins, red cabbage, pomegranate, elderberry, Forbidden Rice®, purple/blue corn, and purple carrots.