Parshat Vayeshev is the story of Joseph, and whenever I think of Joseph, I think of his amazing technicolor coat given to him by his father, Jacob. This very special coat was a sign of greatness.
This concept of technicolor equaling greatness isn’t something that we should just strive for in our wardrobe, but also on our plates. Food comes in all forms of colors, and each color has a specific benefit that can help prevent disease, keep us strong, and assist us in staying healthy.
According to Chinese medicine, red foods such as goji berries help build blood. Tomatoes, which are rich in lycopene, are good for our heart and blood. Also, red foods contain a phytochemical called anthocyanins, which is an antioxidant that helps control blood pressure and protects against diabetes. Other red foods such as cranberries help fight urinary tract infections, and as you already know “an apple a day can keep the doctor away.”
Eating a diet rich in orange and yellow foods is good for the whole body. Oranges, lemons, and other citrus fruits have vitamin C. Vitamin C is said to prevent colds, flus, and scurvy. Other orange foods such as carrots, and yellow foods such as squash, contain beta-carotene which may prevent cancer and protect our eyes.
However, there are other nutrients in yellow foods, for example bananas are packed with potassium, which helps eliminate cramping. In general, yellow foods are also a good source of antioxidants and help maintain healthy skin and teeth.
From a young age we were all told to eat our greens, and in reality, everyone should. Foods like broccoli may reduce the risk of cancer, arthritis, and aging. Leafy green vegetables are actually a much better source of calcium than any dairy product. Kale, chard and other leafy greens are chock full of folate, fiber, and antioxidants. If we eat more green foods, we might not have to fortify our food anymore, because green vegetables have all the vitamins we need.
The blue and purple colors in foods are formed by anthocyanins, an antioxidant that fights inflammation and even cancer. Blue and purple foods also help prevent age related memory loss, are good for the heart, protect the gums, eyes, and urinary tract. Blue foods such as blueberries can help fight the “blues” because they give your brain the boost it needs for the week.
Purple foods such as cabbage are loaded with vitamins A, C, and K. Also, elderberries can be applied to the skin to help cure wounds, or can be eaten for respiratory health (please do not eat any uncooked or unripe elderberries). Eating foods that are blue and purple will not only make your plate pretty, but they can also make it more nutritious and delicious.
Jacob gave Joseph a technicolor coat because Joseph was truly special and destined for greatness. Let’s try to keep this in mind the next time you are thinking about what to eat. Try to imagine the greatness of Joseph’s technicolor coat, and make sure your plate is as colorful as his coat, because remember, what is on your plate is destined for your stomach and body. The more colorful your meals are the better; just make sure it is from natural colors and not dyes or preservatives.