If you have ever tasted traditional Thai cuisine, you will have noticed how colorfully presented the meals are. Red chili peppers, fresh green kafir lime and basil leaves, snowy white rice, a riot of color exploding on your plate…..you know it’s going to taste good before you even try it! According to Oriental medicine, nature provides us with foods of different colors for a reason. The Five Element Theory states that there are five elements, five tastes and five colors associated with the five main organs in our body. Following a multicolored diet is important to maintain the balance and health of each organ and how they relate to each other.
White (representing metal and lungs). In western medicine, white foods are said to contain allicin, which is known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. In TCM, white purifies the lungs, calms the emotions and helps with vision. Examples of white foods are garlic, onion, cauliflower, parsnip, jicama, and bamboo shoots.
Black (representing water and kidneys). Black, or dark blue/purple fruits and vegetables contain powerful antioxidants for the prevention of heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer. Black foods are necessary for reproduction, our sexual energy and the aging process. Examples are blueberries, purple grapes, seaweed, black sesame, black walnuts, black mushrooms, sea cucumber and black rice.
Green (representing wood and liver). Known in the west for being excellent sources of iron, calcium, vitamins K, A, and C, in TCM green vegetables represent all plant life and growth. They are needed to help the liver renew itself and cleanse our bodies from environmental and food toxins, and also negative emotions, such as anger and depression. Dark green leafy vegetables, green grapes and avocados are all good examples.
Red foods (representing fire and heart). In western medicine red foods are valuable for containing lycopene, an antioxidant that can help protect against cancer. Foods high in lycopene may also help reduce high blood pressure. In TCM, red foods are associated with heart problems, both physical and emotional, and blood circulation. They benefit the immune system and help prevent us from getting colds. Examples of red foods are red apples, strawberries, tomatoes, and beets.
Yellow (representing earth and spleen). Yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, rich in beta carotene, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C contain powerful antioxidants that neutralize free radicals. In TCM, yellow foods are important for helping transform food and energy to be distributed throughout the body. Examples are sweet potatoes, carrots, corn, cantaloupes and honey.
If you are cooking a meal, remember to pay attention to the colors you are using. Making sure you choose foods from each of the five color groups (white, black, green, red and yellow) will ensure that you are benefiting each vital organ and its corresponding system in your body. If you are eating in a restaurant, choose items on the menu which will do the same. Adding something as simple as a garnish of parsley or coriander for an extra green touch, or a sprinkle of sesame seeds, black or white, a slice of red pepper, a yellow zucchini flower, will not only be aesthetically pleasing to the eye, it will do your body a world of good too!!Leave a reply →