tell us that the red, white and blue colors of our nationís
flag had no official meaning when Old Glory became our
national symbol of independence in 1777. However, red, white
and blue did take on meaning in 1782 when our founding fathers
stipulated that the Great Seal of the United States would
reflect their beliefs and values. Red, therefore, symbolized
hardiness and valor. White represented purity and innocence.
And blue signified vigilance, perseverance and justice.
we donít necessarily inherit these tendencies when we eat
foods that are red, white and blue. We do, however, reap other
benefits when we ingest these color pigments that occur
naturally in food. (Sorry, red, white and blue M&Mís donít
Fruits and vegetables such as cherries, strawberries,
tomatoes, pomegranate, red peppers and watermelon contain
phytonutrients that help guard our cells from damage and may
help reduce our risk for several types of cancer, including
prostate cancer in men. The best studied of these red pigments
are lycopene and ellagic acid. Interestingly, our bodies
absorb lycopene better in cooked foods that have a little
added fat. Donít give up raw tomatoes, however. Just
remember that lycopene is more available when you cook them up
with a little olive oil.
Who said white isnít good for us? Onions, garlic, white
beans, cauliflower, pears and turnips contain substances such
as quercetin that help maintain strong bones and keep our
arteries flexible. Flexible arteries are important to help
prevent high blood pressure.
(and purple): Blueberries, purple grapes and red wine, figs,
boysenberries and eggplant are colored by resveratrol and
anthocyanidins, powerful antioxidants that may help protect
our cells from damage. Resveratrol, for example, is being
studied for its role in keeping our hearts healthy and brains
sharp. Anthocyanidins are compounds that appear to fight off
inflammation associated with heart disease, cancer and
diabetes. And remember this: Studies show that eating
blueberries may help our memory as we age.
strategy to get the most benefit from Natureís plant colors,
say nutrition experts, is to eat a variety of colored fruits
and vegetables throughout our lives.