Red, White and Blue Summertime!

Some food for thought while we’re jumping into July!

By Virginia ‘Ginya’ Carnahan, APR, CPRC – Dattoli Cancer Center & Brachytherapy Research Institute

Red, White and Blue SummertimeOkay – our short-lived spring has passed; kids are out of school; vacations  are  starting  and  Father’s  Day When we think of the Fourth of July images of our flag always come to mind, and we may call it “Old Glory” and the “Red, White and Blue.”  Although our founding fathers left no real record of how or why these colors were chosen for our flag, it is generally agreed upon that red represented blood, war and courage; blue stood for justice and freedom; and white was for purity.

How about RED?  Red is absolutely my favorite color.  I think it was my mother’s favorite, too.  I especially like red shoes and always have several pair in my closet.  According to my quick research on the meaning of colors, I learned that red is supposed to be a very emotionally intense color, which can enhance human metabolism, increase respiration rate and raise the blood pressure.  Red is commonly associated with energy; you can see it in promoting energy drinks, games, hot cars, sports and physical activity.

I associate red with many good things to eat and enjoy – watermelon (great on a hot summer day), strawberries (especially in shortcake), luscious cherries and vine-ripened tomatoes (is there any sandwich better than the classic BLT?).  All these ripe, red fruits (yes, tomato is a fruit) are very good for you.  They contain lycopene, a phytochemical that is believed to lower the risk of some cancers.

One red warning for summer:  watch your sun exposure.  Sunburn is not only uncomfortable but we know it can lead to deadly skin cancers.  Always wear sunscreen and reapply often if you are in the sun for extended periods.  (Another note: be sure to get a full body exam for pre-cancers of the skin at least once a year.  You can develop skin cancers even where the “sun doesn’t shine” and on parts of your body that you yourself cannot see.)

Perhaps you prefer BLUE.  Where red is intense and exciting, blue is calming and associated with tranquility.  Blue can slow human metabolism, and is thought to be linked with consciousness and intellect.  When used in heraldry, blue represents piety and sincerity. According to some studies, blue is a masculine color, highly accepted among males.  Dark blue is associated with depth, stability and expertise, and is the preferred color of corporate America.  Blue has been shown to suppress the appetite – so maybe painting the dining room blue is a good weight management tool?

There aren’t many blue foods, but blueberries are a powerhouse snack, packed with the phytochemical anthocyanin and also containing vitamin C, manganese and fiber.  Blueberries have been studied by many disciplines and are believed to help slow memory loss and prevent cancers, especially prostate cancer.  The blue-purple plums and grapes are also valuable food items in this family.

Now what about “the blues?” Not the harmonica and guitar blues but the mental state of sadness or depression or merely ennui?  (I could have bet you a million dollars that I would never have the opportunity to use the word “ennui” in anything I would write!  Ennui means a feeling of weariness or boredom.  Pronounced “on-we,” it is a good Scrabble word!)  Everyone gets “the blues” occasionally, but if you seem down and have been down for weeks, perhaps you should share your troubles with a professional. We only get one go-round at this life and it would be a shame not to enjoy it!
By this time if you are still reading you know I’m closing in on WHITE.  And you surely know that the color white is associated with goodness, innocence and purity.  My superficial research says it is also considered to be the color of perfection.  In advertising, white is associated with coolness and cleanliness because it is the color of snow!  Snow?  Who really cares about snow when you live in the Sunshine State?  Well, snow does feed our tourist economy so we’ll give it some slack.

White, they say, is also associated with hospitals, doctors, low-fat food and dairy products.  Most white food is not really the best for you.  For instance, white bread is lacking in most nutrients; refined white sugar is akin to pure poison and white salt is a killer for those with high blood pressure.  White cauliflower is maybe the one saving grace for white food.  White potatoes, in limited servings, can add some nutrition … fiber, vitamin C, iron and calcium. Just don’t drown it with butter, sour cream and cheese.  My final comment concerns white chocolate.  In my humble opinion, it should be banished from the earth.  It is not even chocolate in the strictest sense.  “White chocolate” is made of cocoa butter, milk solids and sugar and has none of the beneficial components of chocolate (especially dark chocolate).  Beware of products called “confectioners coating” or “summer chocolate” often confused with white chocolate, as they are made completely of hydrogenated vegetable and animal fat.  Ick.

And with that – have a wonderful Fourth of July. Enjoy the fireworks and patriotic music.  Life is good in the red, white and blue USA!

Datolli Cancer Center
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