Dr. Perricone Discusses

Rainbow Foods

Rainbow foods are antioxidant gifts from nature. Plant pigments contain disease-preventative phytonutrients and anti-aging antioxidants. Phyto means to "plant," therefore a phytonutrient is a nutrient derived from a plant. Most phytonutrients are powerful antioxidants, which, as we know, are nature's anti-inflammatory agents. One of our best defenses against aging is a diet rich in foods with anti-inflammatory phytonutrients: primarily colorful fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts, seeds, beans, and other legumes. It makes sense to eat as wide a variety of plant foods as possible, in order to achieve optimum phytonutrient protection against such avoidable degenerative conditions as heart disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, and wrinkled, sagging skin.

There are three brightly colored foods that deserve special mention due to their superior antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, positive-peptide-boosting qualities. They are pomegranates, broccoli sprouts, and blueberries.

The Preventative Power of Pomegranate
Pomegranates are a superior rainbow food, rich in flaven-3-ols. I always recommend eating the whole fruit or vegetable as opposed to drinking its juice, which usually lacks fiber and significant portions of the food's antioxidants. However, due to its extremely high antioxidant profile, drinking pomegranate juice made from the unsweetened extract is almost as good as eating the whole fruit - and you won't have to pick out this fruit's seemingly countless seeds!

Green Means Go for Cancer Prevention
Although they are not as widely known (or available), broccoli sprouts provide even more anti-cancer glucosinolates (ten to one hundred times more) and antioxidants by weight than mature broccoli. In addition, broccoli sprouts are especially rich in glucoraphanin - a substance that boosts the body's antioxidant defense system.

The Blues for Brain Boosting
This tiny fruit is one of the most beneficial rainbow foods you can find. Blueberries are brain food (it's not just fish anymore). The phytochemicals in the blueberry extract prevent cell death and the loss of nerve growth factors. These same phytochemicals also appear to speed up neural communication, as blueberry-supplemented neurons have a better ability to communicate with each other.

So next time you go to the grocery store or supermarket, make your cart the most colorful one there. You don't need to buy every color at once; try brightening up your menu a little at a time.

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