Most of us might be used to thinking about the almighty calorie when it comes to food.
We might have even gone further to learn to have our vigilant eye on monitoring grams of fat, carbohydrate, and protein on food labels. However, how many of us have overlooked one of the most important, essential aspects of eating: color?
Now, I don’t mean the dazzling array of synthetic colors we see in a handful of M&Ms or a bowl of Fruit Loops, but the true, honest-to-goodness natural colors found in the vast spectrum of whole foods: the earthy, deep red of a beet; the vibrant, sunset-orange of a nectarine; the sunshine brilliance of a yellow squash; the lush green of a bundle of spinach; the regal violet of a plump blueberry.
I have noticed that much of mainstream eating revolves around the merry-go-round of three colors: yellow, white, and brown. Don’t believe me? Take a moment to think of some popular, traditional breakfast items: Ready-to-eat cereal and milk, French toast, waffles, pancakes, bacon, sausage, eggs. All items are yellow, white and/or brown.
What is the case for more color?
On a scientific level, these natural colors in foods indicate the presence of phytonutrients. We get less than a teaspoon of these plant compounds on a daily basis, but they have a beneficial impact on reducing inflammation, balancing our stress response, and improving our insulin sensitivity.
The average American gets about 3.6 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, falling substantially short of the recommended nine servings. In fact, knowing this statistic along with the fact that eight out of 10 Americans fall short in color, I wonder whether we are in a state of “phytonutrient deficiency.” Is one of the reasons for the rapid increase in chronic disease over time due to our lack of color? Perhaps the Mediterranean diet is so successful, in part, because it’s wildly colorful with its daily cornucopia of fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and spices.
On an energetic level, color has everything to do with the vibratory nature of a food. Every color carries with it a unique wavelength, a resonance, or frequency. No one color is better than the other. We may need certain frequencies at certain times more than others. Color is impacted by cooking. When vegetables are overcooked, they become bland. With each shade they release to the water they are cooked in or to the air that oxidizes them, they lose their vibrancy, or their life force. If we go further with toasting, grilling, baking, and frying to the degree that we move from the natural vibrant colors to brown or black, we have lost the vital spectrum of potential. These brown/black compounds have been shown in the scientific literature to be inflammatory and connected to aging, all indicators that we have let our life force slip away.
Getting the array of colors is essential to nourishing each of the vibrations held by our subtle body through the chakra system. Here are some colors and their chakra correlations, along with some ideas about foods to get more of those precious vibrations through a variety of plant foods:
RED: Root chakra; needed for survival and stability. Red apples, beets, red cabbage, cherries, cranberries, pink grapefruit, red grapes, red peppers, pomegranates, red potatoes, radishes, raspberries, rhubarb, strawberries, tomatoes, watermelon.
ORANGE: Sacral chakra; creates flow and fluidity. Apricots, butternut squash, cantaloupe, carrots, grapefruit, mangoes, nectarines, oranges, papayas, peaches, persimmons, pumpkin, rutabagas, yellow summer or winter squash, sweet potatoes, tangerines.
YELLOW: Solar plexus chakra; wields the fiery power of transformation. Apple (Golden Delicious), Asian pears, bananas, bell peppers, corn, corn-on-the-cob, ginger root, greens, kale, lemon, pineapple, potatoes (Yukon), star fruit.
GREEN: Heart chakra; allows for expansion into empathy and compassion. Green apples, artichokes, asparagus, avocados, green beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green cabbage, cucumbers, green grapes, honeydew melon, kiwi, lettuce, limes, green onions, peas, green peppers, spinach, zucchini.
AQUAMARINE: Throat chakra; enables authenticity and truth to come through our unique voice. Isn’t it interesting that we do not have aquamarine-colored foods? Here is where we can pause to reflect about how we are taking in these colors and foods through our throat, are we eating mindfully? Are we integrating our senses and all colors in the eating experience?
BLUE-PURPLE: Third eye chakra, endows us with wisdom and intuition. Purple kale, purple cabbage, purple potatoes, eggplant, purple grapes, blueberries, blackberries, boysenberries, marionberries, raisins, figs, plums.
TAN-WHITE: Crown chakra; connects us to the life force that animates us. Cauliflower, garlic, coconut, onions, pears, shallots.
By getting a sprinkling of the spectrum every day, you feed all parts of you both physically as well as energetically, satisfying your requirement for the vibration of the multitude of colors.
You may want to try an interesting exercise of writing down everything you eat in a week, and then take colored markers or crayons to mark up your foods with the corresponding color so that at a glance, you can see where you are on the spectrum. Is it a piece of art with a palette of all colors? Or is it within the realm of a limited scheme of yellow, brown, and white?
Be your own food artist, embrace nature’s vivid colors, and enjoy the spectrum of vitality in return.