CLERMONT - Dr. Muhammad Khan likes his colors.

He also likes his spices, and his food. The Pakistan-born internist from Central Florida Internists shared his enthusiasm with a small-but-enthusiastic audience at the National Training Center on May 22 - all in the name of good health.

Khan's presentation was officially on vitamins and anti-oxidents, and was part of the South Lake Hospital's free community education program. The doctor's bottom line is to keep it colorful, eat food that is as minimally processed as possible, exercise and do everything in moderation.

"The healthiest lifestyle is the lifestyle you had in this country 50 to 60 years ago," Khan said.

On the importance of color in food, Khan noted that "When I first came here, I'd go to the grocery store and see green bell peppers at 99 cents a pound. I'd see red and yellow I'd say, 'I'm not going to pay that.' So I get the green peppers. But the red and yellow have much more (health benefits) than the green ones.

"The reason God did this is with our eyes," he added. "We are attracted to the colorful food - that is the most (healthful). I try to put as much color as I can on my plate."

As for his personal supplement regimen, Khan takes only two pills regularly: a multi-vitamin/mineral/herb/anti-oxident pill that he carries at his own office pharmacy, and a fish oil supplement.

Praising the fish oil capsules for their concentration of essential fatty acids, he says that if people were to take only one supplement a day, it should be fish oil. It's not that vitamins and minerals are not so important, it's that essential fatty acids - in proper amounts - are not so easy to get in a typical American diet. Omega 3, 6 and 9 are generally considered the most important of the fatty acids, and while Khan says that many foods are fortified with omega 6 and 9, that doesn't happen with omega 3.

High amounts of omega 6 and 9 have been linked to inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, Khan says. And while he does speak highly of flaxseed as a source of essential fatty acids - it has omega 3, 6 and 9 - he cautions that since it has the 6 and 9 in large amounts, flaxseed in large quantities is not a good idea.

He also praises almonds and peanuts for their essential fatty acid. He also says try not to eat more than "five or six or 10 a day" because of the calories.

On lipoic acid - one of the essential fatty acids - he noted that while beef in this country used to have 5 percent lipoic acid as late as the 1960s, beef today typically has less than 1 percent, except for the grass-fed beef, which has more.

On the subject of tea, he says that the tea you get in most stores in this country doesn't seem real to him, because he's used to whole tea leaves, minimally processed. Of the difference between green and black tea, he says that the green is less fermented, made from younger leaves, and has a lot more antioxidants than the black tea. The healthful properties of the green tea come mainly from the chlorophyll.

"When you heat chlorophyll, you destroy it," Khan said. "Three cups of green tea are better than Aricept (an approved medication for Alzheimers patients) because of the increase in acetylcholine."

On the subject of flavanoids, which detoxifies bad cholesterol, he recommends soy. The benefits of various herbs and spices - as well as green tea - are also obvious, he noted. Khan figures that people are best off eating or drinking the whole product because the concentrates sold as health food supplements generally only have a few of the ingredients present in the original.

He doesn't mean to suggest that the specific ingredients in the capsules sold as supplements are not the most important ingredients, but that the ingredients left out also have value.

Khan considers himself lucky to have been brought up on Pakistani cuisine because many of the spices that are an integral part of the cuisine also have documented health benefits.

He particularly noted turmeric.

"It's the most joint-protective thing you find," Khan said.