The inclusion of colourful food in daily meals is the key to boosting immunity. Chef David Edward Raj lists how
Ever wondered what is so fascinating about the freshly cooked Palak Paneer, exotic vegetable salad, or the enticing garnishing on a vanilla ice cream? Is it just the bold and colourful arrangement of food which attracts us or the taste and health benefits too?
Well, the inclusion of colourful food in daily meals is the key to boost immunity and remain in the pink of health. Colourful foods, which are generally fruits and vegetables, contain various vitamins and antioxidants we need, with few calories. Besides sustaining good health, the nutrients in vegetables and fruits work together to protect us against cancer, heart disease, vision loss, hypertension and other diseases. Increasing fruits and vegetables in your diet is a great step to improve your health. This can be done by adding VIBGYOR foods to at least one meal a day. This arrangement mainly includes fruits and vegetables that contain flavonoids (natural pigments) which give them their distinct colour and are the powerhouse of antioxidants.
These naturally occurring colourful vegetables and fruits protect the cells from oxidative stress caused by various factors. While the millennials are now realising the importance of eating healthy, there is a need for constant innovation in food recipes that makes it further interesting. Going by the Pantone colour of 2021, here are a few benefits of activated charcoal and yellow vegetables and spices in our food.
Gray is the new Green
Activated charcoal can be used as a ‘detox’ component in fresh fruit juices, Kadha and shakes. Whole wheat bread and buns have also started with a black variant. Similarly, sushi, grilled chicken/fish, pizza base, and dim-sums are available in a black version. Last but not the least, there are a plethora of desserts and ice creams too available in charcoal flavour.
Food grade charcoal can be obtained by burning the coconut shell at extreme temperatures. Adding this to food is the new trend. This can be achieved by adding/sprinkling the activated charcoal in the food/beverage/ dessert preparations. Activated charcoal can be used while making bread and other confectionaries with eye-appealing garnishing like black cup-cake with strawberry frosting and so on. Moreover, health experts believe that organs like the liver and kidneys carry out detoxification effectively, therefore deeming the need for external detoxification redundant. Even so, studies have been conducted to determine the potency of activated charcoal when consumed with food. While the results may not be completely scientifically accurate, they were positive. Hence, activated charcoal can be induced anywhere and everywhere till the creativity continues; but overindulgence of the same shall be avoided.
The power of Orange & Yellow
As kids, we were always told to eat carrots to protect our vision. While that’s not entirely true (unless you’re deficient in vitamin A, a problem most often seen in third-world countries), it does mean most people haven’t heard of beta-carotene. The antioxidant is converted to vitamin A in the body and maintains eye health (preventing macular degeneration and improving night vision), fights cancer, and is necessary for healthy skin. The yellow-orange citrus fruits are rich in Vitamin C, another antioxidant that boosts immunity. These include carrots, pumpkins, corn, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, yellow-orange peppers, oranges, malt, sweet lime, lemon, papaya, dried apricot and peach.
These yellow foods can be included in form of salads, juices, infused water, sautéed vegetables, side dishes and so on. Dishes like Carrot Poha, Carrot fingers, Pumpkin Soup, Pumpkin Puris, Carrot and Pumpkin Salad, Juices, Corn Chat, Corn pizza, and many more. Other nutrients found in orange and yellow fruits and veggies include potassium, folic acid, and bromelain. For folic acid, eat carrots, cantaloupe, summer squash, and corn. And make sure you eat plenty of pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash, they’re all high in blood pressure, lowering potassium. (Again, people with kidney disease may need to limit their potassium intake.) Last but not least, bromelain, an enzyme in pineapple, can help in digestion and curtail swelling and infection. It may also fight atherosclerosis, though the research is still inconclusive. And yellow grapefruit has lycopene, although the pink variety and tomatoes have higher levels. Lycopene is especially good for men because it’s helpful for the prostate.
The bright illuminating turmeric has a bioactive compound called curcumin that has antioxidant properties. Indian food is majorly cooked with turmeric neutralising the free radicals caused due to the oxidative stress. This spice has been used for ages to treat infection, cold and inflammation.
Eating a diet high in antioxidant-rich food is always a smart choice. Antioxidants and phytochemicals present in the food neutralise the free radicals that create havoc in your body by damaging membranes, DNA and enzymes caused due to many factors like UV rays, poor lifestyle, cigarette smoke and environmental pollution called oxidative stress. Many areas are vulnerable to oxidative stress but immune system is extremely sensitive to these free radicals. Due to ageing as well in some cases the free radicals outnumber the concentration of naturally occurring antioxidants in your body. Hence, to ensure you have a good immune system you need to continuously pump your body with antioxidant-rich foods found in all bright-naturally occurring fruits and vegetables. Red peppers, tomatoes, carrots, yellow zucchini, corn, greens. That variety ensures that you’re getting those antioxidants, which can be beneficial.
(The writer is Director of Culinary Innovation, Elior India.)