Science is amazing, but it has its limits. We have been able to identify all the molecules in certain foods. We understand the bonds that keep the individual molecules together. And yet, we cannot build an apple fit for consumption. I am willing to accept that nature knows best most of the time. Consume a whole, plant food and you not only reap the benefits of molecules essential to life, namely the macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). You also are the beneficiary of that plant’s lifelong battle to protect itself. To protect themselves against oxidative damage and invaders like diseases and pests, plants generate molecules called phytonutrients (or phytochemicals to be precise). Consume the plant and the protective effects are transferred to you. Each phytonutrient has its own color, so they are fairly easy to identify. Consume a rainbow of colors and you will be taking in a variety of phytonutrients, each with its own unique health benefit. Over 4,000 phytonutrients and their health benefits have been identified – we will highlight a few by their colors here: RED: LycopeneFOODS: Tomatoes, watermelon, papaya, pink grapefruitBENEFITS: May reduce risk of heart attacks and certain cancers, notably prostate cancer ORANGE: Beta-caroteneFOODS: Carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, pumpkin, squash, mangoesBENEFITS: Supports immune system, powerful antioxidant, may prevent certain cancers, prevents age-related macular degeneration WHITE: IndolesFOODS: Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli, cabbage (chlorophyll, a green molecule, masks the indoles in some of these foods)BENEFITS: Powerful toxin and carcinogen eliminators RED/PURPLE: AnthocyaninsFOODS: Blueberries, beets, raspberries, blackberries, acai berries, eggplantBENEFITS: Powerful antioxidants that may promote healthy blood pressure, reduce risk of heart disease, improve brain function and lower risk of cancer. While phytonutrients are not essential for life, they are powerful disease fighters. Consume plenty of whole, plant-based foods, both cooked and raw, with a variety of colors and you will give your body nature’s best defenses. Here are two recipes you can make to get your phytonutrient fix: This Chilled Cauliflower Soup is absolutely delicious--served chilled it resembles vichyssoise. Add a roasted red pepper and up the phytonutrient power. This Broccoli Salad is an excellent way to utilize leftover batch cooked broccoli. It's sweet and sour flavor and variety of textures makes consuming the rainbow a gastronomic experience! Many thanks to Living Plate and the Chester Library for letting us be a part of this event. Subscribe to our email newsletter to receive new event announcements right in your inbox or visit our News & Events page.