Red foods for better health explains the need for many colours in our diets; and the role they have in promoting wellness and preventing disease.
Good morning and welcome to day 3; why we should be enjoying red-coloured foods on a regular basis.
People often tell me they just do not have the hours to choose, prepare and cook whole meals; fast food is a great way to create space in their lives for other more important things.
So let’s back up for a moment and consider why it really is worth spending the time preparing and enjoying nourishing food; and even growing it.
Whether we like it or not, it is finally dawning on many people that we either take the time to care for God’s world; or we are going to spend a great deal more coping with the devastating effects of global warming and climate change.
And in similar vein, we either spend the time getting exercise, taking holidays and enjoying healthy food or we will be forced to take a lot more consulting doctors and queuing up for medicines; not to mention the cost, pain and the likelihood of a poor lifestyle foreshortening our lives.
Enough of that; it’s my philosophical justification for the amount of time we spend gardening, preparing and cooking good food. Fresh fruit and veggies taste so much better in any case.
Tomatoes and onions make up the foundation of so many tasty and nutritious dishes; this is borscht in the making. On Friday we will look at the nutrients in beets that are so important.
So what’s special about red foods like pomegranates, tomatoes and watermelon? To which we could add many more like peppers and radishes.
We mentioned earlier that plants have many thousands of coloured phytonutrients that researchers are only now beginning to understand. Today we will talk about just two of them; lycopenes and capsaicin. Don’t bother memorising their names but do try and remember a little about why scientists are calling them “functional foods;” those that promote health and help prevent disease.
Researchers were determined to find out why Italians living in America were far less prone to prostate cancer; eventually they realised that it was because they ate so many tomatoes, raw and cooked. It is the most common life-threatening malignancy in men.
Lycopenes are the nutrients that make tomatoes red; they are powerful antioxidants that mop up the free radicals that unbeknown to us, below the radar are causing such havoc with our cells.
Prevention remains better than a cure but even in those with prostate cancer researchers have found that the PSA marker drops by 18% within a month after starting to eat dishes with cooked tomatoes daily. Extra fat helps with the absorption of these carotenoids as they are known. Fry them with olive or coconut oil, and even butter perhaps.
And secondly capsaicin is the nutrient in peppers that gives them their pungent flavour.
Firstly a little science for those who want to understand why we should all be enjoying tomatoes, peppers and chilies daily, even in small quantities. Normal cells in the body undergo what is known as apoptosis; new ones are continually being formed and then dying.
Malignant tumours have developed a way of avoiding apoptosis; they have deregulated the genes that control this programmed death of normal cells. Instead they just keep on growing.
Scientists have now discovered that the capsaicin in hot red peppers is able to induce this normal cell death called apoptosis again in cancerous prostate tumours that have managed to circumnavigate this orderly process; and those in other organs too no doubt.
The point to be emphasised yet again is that there are literally thousands of these nutrients in coloured foods. There is absolutely no point in fussing over whether we have consumed enough capsaicin or lycopene today; we would go mad.
Instead just try to eat as many coloured foods as you possibly can every day.
“The remedy oft in thyself doth lie.”
It is my standpoint that God has created the ways and means for us to enjoy long and fruitful lives. The so-called industrial diet of today is deficient in many, even most of these nutrients. Instead is it perhaps time to restore your own little Eden?
“There is increasing evidence that exposure to plants and green space, and particularly to gardening, is beneficial to mental and physical health.”
- Journal of Clinical Medicine
Within weeks we will have an abundance of cherry tomatoes and peppadews. Without being legalistic about it, we do try to make sure we eat them every day. Yes, it does take time to grow, harvest and preserve them for year-round enjoyment.
More, it’s in the Garden Cathedral as we call our backyard that we experience the peace of God. The noise of the world is switched off, making space for him to speak to us; and us to him.
May God bless you today as you ponder these weighty matters. Tomorrow, Thursday, we will consider the orange and yellow foods.
Red foods for better health is about lycopenes in tomatoes and capsaicin in peppers; we should be enjoying them several times a week, even daily.
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Growing peppadews is not difficult but the plants do need to be supported.
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