5 Colors, 5 Flavors, 5 Ways
When you choose a colorful range of foods, nutrients "naturally" come into balance without doing complicated dietary calculations. Although the specific nutritional profile of foods in the same color category are different -- carbohydrate and fiber-packed corn and vitamin C-rich lemons are both yellow; low-sodium, calcium-rich black sesame seeds and low-cholesterol, Vitamin E-rich nori are both black -- by including some food from each of the five colors you are sure to achieve variety. And when combined with the other considerations of including various flavors and cooking preparation methods, balance -- and harmony -- is the result.
RED 赤 aka
The category RED contains fruits, vegetables, meat and some dried beans. The palette ranges from orange & russet tones to pink & magenta, and includes crimson & ruby hues, too. Although artificial red food dye does not contribute to the nutritional profile of a food, tinting foods such as umeboshi pink with the natural food dye processed from dried red shiso (called aka-jiso or yukari, in Japanese) will qualify a food for inclusion in this category.
WHITE 白 shiro
The color category white includes rice, and many other grains, cereals, and seeds in addition to several vegetables and tubers. The white category, also includes tofu and soy milk. Mild-flavored, delicate white-fleshed fish (shiromi-zakana, in Japanese) and “white meat” chicken and pork can also be counted in this group.
GREEN 青 ao
The word ao in Japanese means both “green” and "blue." This category includes many legumes, leafy vegetables and herbs (aquatic and terrestrial) in addition to oily fishes such as mackerel and sardines, called ao-zakana (literally “blue” fish).
YELLOW 黄 ki
This category includes fruits and vegetables, eggs, and some grains and nuts. Although artificial yellow food dye does not contribute to the nutritional profile of a food, tinting foods yellow with the natural food dye processed from dried gardenia pods (called kuchinashi no mi in Japanese) will qualify a food for inclusion in this category.
BLACK 黒 kuro
Very dark foods such as nori laver, eggplant skins, shiitake mushrooms, black soy beans, and black sesame seeds comprise the color category of black.