Macronutrients vs. Micronutrients – Put a palette of colors on the table!

Given the dauntingly vast quantity of indispensable nutrients, it is impossible, as of today, to offer an exhaustive list of recommended foods.

The body is an infinitely complex machine, the seat of countless interactions. Food operates as a whole, and when nutrients are isolated, they don’t work as well, or don’t work at all. 


At this point of nutritional knowledge (or lack thereof), our best bet is to consume the widest possible variety of foods, while following three simple guidelines:

1. Seek colored, micronutrient-rich food

With some exceptions, micronutrients are richly colored. Let that be your guide: seek deeply, intensely colored ingredients.

Grapes 1 as Smart Object-1• Look for the blue-indigo to purple-red pigments, as found in berries, eggplants, radicchio, purple cabbage, bell pepper, red onion…

Tomato• Find orange-red to yellow nutrients in carrots, tomatoes, pomegranates, berries, squashes…

• And all the shades in between! Train your artistic eye, and soon you’ll be able to distinguish subtle hue variations.Carrots-bunch

There are exceptions to the color rule. Most notable are:
• Cruciferous vegetables (such as cauliflower) are not very colorful; however, they contain an important class of micronutrients.
• The allium family (onions, shallots, garlic), which has many proven medicinal virtues, is not very colorful either.

2. Seek whole real food

This is food as produced by nature, food that is closest to:
        Pulled from the ground,
        Cut from the flesh,
        Plucked from the plant.

_DSC2365 as Smart Object-1Look for fresh ingredients that received as little processing as possible: humans coevolved with this kind of nourishment for several hundred thousand years and have genetically adapted to it. On the evolutionary scale, agriculture is a very recent development!

Industrial processing almost always lowers the nutritional value of ingredients and, willingly or not, introduces chemicals.

3. Seek healthy sources 

Consuming foods that have been grown in contaminated soil or with chemical fertilizers and pesticides will lead to elevated amounts of dangerous substances in the body.

If buying organic food exclusively is neither practical nor affordable, keep in mind that foods have different capabilities to absorb chemicals, and that ingredients with concentrated nutrition also have the potential for concentrated contaminants.

RainbowAt special risk are:

• Root vegetables (carrots, turnips, potatoes…)

• Fall berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries…)

• Eggs

• Dairy products

So, go the extra mile for these!

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Author: Lien Nguyen

Liên is the author of several cookbooks that blend food with history, culture and health.

2 thoughts on “Macronutrients vs. Micronutrients – Put a palette of colors on the table!”

  1. Regarding organically grown foods. I have read that even these are exposed to “organic” pesticides and other chemicals approved by agencies governing the “organic” label. Does this raise concern for these as well? Is there such a thing as a truly pesticide-free product or is it more about minimizing exposure (which of course would be hard to really measure)?

    1. Hi Jim,
      It is true that pesticides are used in food legally labeled ‘organic’ by such authorizing agencies. After all even ‘Roundup’ is an organic compound, which should lead one to be cautious about the very word ‘organic.’ ‘Organic’ basically just means some kind of carbon compound. Cyanide is organic.
      The goal is to get food as optimally raised and as near to when it is harvested as possible. The ideal is to yourself be the producer and absent this ideal to know one fist hand: and thus the Farmer’s Market movement. Know your grower or rancher is best. Get as near that ideal as you can and then move on with the confidence you did your best. Dr. Mike

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