Everyone knows that including a diet rich in fruit and vegetables is ideal for a healthy lifestyle. The many bright colours that make these fruit and vegetables so appealing and delicious are all thanks to a group of nutrients that contain a rainbow of health benefits. Aim to include at least three of these colours in your 5-10 servings of fruit and vegetables each day.
Q: What makes them red?
A: Lycopene and anthocyanins
Benefits: Lycopene, most commonly found in tomatoes, has been shown to help reduce bad cholesterol and acts as an antioxidant to help fight free radicals. Anthocyanins, known to give cherries their dark pigments, are a source of heart-healthy benefits that can help improve circulation, lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol.
Foods: Cherries, red peppers, tomatoes, beets, pomegranates, radishes, watermelon
Tip: Lycopene is better absorbed from cooked tomatoes than raw tomatoes.
Q: What makes them orange/yellow?
Benefits: Those bright orange and yellow colours are all thanks to beta-carotene (converted into vitamin A), the antioxidant that helps to support eye health. Orange and yellow foods are also high in vitamin C and bioflavonoids, heart-healthy compounds that can help improve immune system function and promote skin health.
Foods: Carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, yellow peppers, lemon, oranges
Tip: To get more beta-carotene in your diet, mash a sweet potato along with your regular potatoes.
Q: What makes them green?
Benefits: There’s a reason why we’ve always been told to eat our greens. Chlorophyll for humans has been shown to help detoxify the body and improve circulation. Many green foods are good sources of carotenoids called lutein and zeaxanthin which help support eye health. Many green veggies are also high in other nutrients such as fibre, vitamin K, folic acid, potassium, and iron.
Foods: Avocado, spinach, arugula, broccoli, green beans, green tea, kale, kiwi, green apple
Tip: Raw, cooked or steamed, try to include at least one type of green veggie on your plate each day.
Q: What makes them blue and purple?
Benefits: That blue and purple hue comes from anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants known for their anti-aging properties. These foods have been shown to help promote bone and brain health and guard against heart disease and age-related blindness.
Foods: Blueberries, blackberries, eggplant, purple figs, grapes, plums,
Tip: Toss a handful of berries into our oatmeal or salad each day.
Q: What makes them white?
Benefits: Research shows that white foods contain anthoxanthins and other flavonoids such as quercetin and allium which are known to help reduce inflammation and support heart health by helping to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, promote eye health and help maintain a strong immune system.
Foods: Cauliflower, onions, garlic, ginger, bananas, turnips, mushrooms
Tip: Add chopped garlic when sautéing your favourite green vegetable.