Taste the Rainbow: Rosa Mendes' color-coordinated nutrition guide
Listen up: The average male should consume at least five servings of fruits and veggies a day to maintain a healthy lifestyle. But you knew that already. Well, it’s also important to chow down on an assortment of colors, too.
“Each color of fruit and vegetable has its own unique vitamins, antioxidants and nutritional value,” says Dr. Eric Plasker, author of “The 100 Year Lifestyle Workout.” “And to balance the nutrients you need, you must vary the color in your diet.” Yeah, it’s work, but staring at Rosa Mendes makes it a lot more palatable.
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What to eat: Tomatoes, red peppers, cherries and watermelon
Benefits: Crimson crops contain lycopene, a phytochemical that’s believed to thwart prostate cancer. According to Dr. Plasker, red produce also contains powerful antioxidants that fight free radicals (destructive molecules kicking around your system); ultimately, these foods may reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke, and help prevent dangerous blood clots from forming.
Rosa’s tip: “I make a Costa Rican salad with finely chopped tomatoes, red peppers, onions and cilantro topped with a spritz of fresh lemon. You can eat it as a side dish or add it to fajitas.”
What to eat: Yellow squash, oranges, carrots and corn
Benefits: These bright foods are a great source of immune system-strengthening Vitamin C and beta-carotene, which your body converts into Vitamin A to promote healthy vision, skin and bones and also to help you fight off illnesses. You should add yellow and orange foods to your diet to help lower blood pressure and reduce dangerous LDL cholesterol levels to boot.
Rosa’s tip: “A delicious way to include yellow squash in your diet is by making a Greek dish called moussaka. It’s usually made with eggplant, but you can also substitute in yellow squash.”
What to eat: Spinach, green apples, cucumbers and lettuce
Benefits: “Green produce, and not milk, is the best source of calcium, as it contains higher concentrations in a more absorbable state,” says Dr. Plasker. And the darker the green, the more nutrient-rich the produce. Greens also help fight age-related eye diseases, aid in digestion, thwart the onset of colon cancer and diverticulitis (swelling of the intestinal wall) and are high in fiber.
Rosa’s tip:“Go green by making a salad with spinach leaves, crumbled blue cheese, sliced green apples and pecans. Then top it all off with a splash of low-cal balsamic vinaigrette.”
Blue and Purple
What to eat: Blueberries, blackberries, eggplant and purple cabbage
Benefits: The phytonutrients polyphenol and anthocyanin give these crops their dark hue, and they supply your body with many age- and disease-fighting antioxidants. It’s also believed they help fight male-specific cancers and Alzheimer’s disease. As an added bonus, these superfoods help control your cholesterol levels, thanks to a chemical in their skin called resveratrol.
Rosa’s tip: “When it’s time for dessert, I mix blueberries and blackberries with a few spoonfuls of low-fat Cool Whip. It’s a sweet, delicious combination that will curb your craving for cookies or cake.”
What to eat: Potatoes, mushrooms, garlic, pears and bananas
Benefits: Rich in cancer-preventing flavonoids, white fruits and vegetables also contain allicin, a compound believed to reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure and to lower dangerous LDL levels. These foods also contain nutrients that stimulate your body’s B-cells and T-cells, which strengthen the immune system and tag team against disease.
Rosa’s tip: “The next time you’re cooking steak or chicken, sauté some mushrooms in a pan with onions and a few pieces of garlic. Add them on top of the meat or eat them as a side dish for extra flavor.”