Should we count the calories in the foods we eat? The new answer is NO. We have been focusing on the wrong thing for so many years. As a child, i remember hearing about adults counting calories to maintain their weight. So naturally, as an adult, I thought that is what I was suppose to do as well. We are now learning that the old adage, “a calorie is a calorie” isn’t accurate. A calorie of broccoli doesn’t equal a calorie of sugary soda. Broccoli is a nutrient-dense food that brings SO much more to your body. That is why it is extremely important to add colorful foods, rich in nutrients to your diet instead of counting calories.

According to Dr David Heber, M.D., Ph.D. and author of “What Color Is Your Diet” the key to designing your colorful diet is to choose from a range of different color groups. Here are some examples:

Blue/purple fruits and vegetables contain varying amounts of health-promoting chemicals. Choose from a range including blueberries, blackberries, eggplant, plums, and raisins. These assist in memory function.

The green group includes:  broccoli; Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and Bok choi. These foods stimulate the genes in your liver to turn on the production of enzymes that break down the cancer-causing chemicals in the body.

The yellow/green group includes:  green peas, avocado and honeydew melon. These promote eye health. You see?!

The yellow/orange group includes:  carrots, mangoes, apricots and pumpkin. These contain carotenoids (beta carotene is one), fierce antioxidants that help prevent cancer and assist to lower heart-attack risk. Heart health is everything.

The white group includes: white peaches, cauliflower, garlic, ginger, mushrooms and are helpful to maintain heart health.

The red group includes:  tomatoes, pink grapefruit and watermelon all of which contain lycopene. Lycopene is associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer and cardiovascular disease.

The red/purple group includes:  grapes, grape juice, prunes, cranberries, strawberries and red apples. These foods have a beneficial effect on heart disease by inhibiting blood clot formation.

Go easy on the beige and brown foods such as pasta and starchy carbs. When there are too many of these boring colors on your plate, weight gain is almost certain. That’s because these beige foods often are high in calories but more importantly can leave you feeling hungry later. A cup of beige or brown beans can be over 200 calories….but a cup of red or green vegetables is generally under a hundred. But really counting calories isn’t what is important. Nutrient-rich foods that feed the body are what you should go after. Add fresh greens, deep purple-reds and bright yellow-orange to a meal, and water the nutrient content go up, while calories go down. Plus, you’ll get more enjoyment from eating when there’s a variety of colors and flavors on your plate.
I think I will go eat a rainbow of foods now. That is what really counts. Doesn’t that sound delicious?