Eat yourself a Rainbow
How about trying to eat yourself a rainbow every day with your fruit and veg.
The reds – red peppers, tomatoes, cherries, strawberries, cranberries, pomegranates, raspberries, blood oranges, rhubarb. Lycopene and anthocyanins are the two main pigments that give fruit and veg its deep red colour. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that helps mop up potentially harmful free radicals before they get to damage cells, in addition to acting as antioxidants and fighting free radicals, anthocyanins may offer anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-cancer benefits. In herbal medicine, anthocyanin-rich substances have long been used to treat a number of conditions including high blood pressure, colds, and urinary tract infections.
Most red fruit and veg is best eaten fresh but studies have shown that heating foods such as tomatoes allows the body to absorb lycopene more easily. All these red fruits are recognised as a good source of vitamins and minerals, and for their role in preventing vitamin C and vitamin A deficiencies.
The yellows – bananas, yellow peppers, melon, lemons, pineapples and sweet corn. The range of nutrients found in yellow fruit and veg varies but may include vitamin C, and B vitamins that contribute to the metabolism, helping the body to get energy from food such as B1, B2, B3, B6 and B12. Bananas are a good source of potassium which is essential for maintaining normal blood pressure.
The greens – avocados, kiwi fruit, apples, grapes, spinach, kale, broccoli, asparagus, peas, cucumbers, rocket, lettuce, watercress, cucumber, brussel sprouts, leafy cabbage, spring greens, peas, sugar snap peas, mangetout, cress, courgette, peppers, spring onions and leeks. Green fruit and veg are coloured by a pigment called chlorophyll, an antioxidant. Many are good sources of two carotenoids called lutein and zeaxanthin, plus they contain phytochemicals such as indoles and glucosinolates and nutrients such as beta-carotene, folate, iron and calcium. Spinach is high in vitamins C and K, whereas kale is high in vitamin A and folate, but all these greens will make a healthy addition to your plate.
The blues – blueberries, black grapes, and blackberries. Anthocyanins are what give blue fruit and vegetables their colour with its antioxidant properties that protect cells from damage. Good intakes of anthocyanins have also been linked to improving balance, co-ordination and short-term memory in old age, as well as better vision.
The purples – red cabbages, beetroot, figs, plums, aubergines and red onions. Dried figs have a high fibre content, beetroot is rich in nitrates, which may help reduce blood pressure, and red cabbage is high vitamin C, whilst aubergines are a good course of potassium.
The oranges – oranges, mangoes, cantaloupe melon, papaya, peaches, apricots, carrots, butternut squash, pumpkins, orange peppers, sweet potatoes. The orange colour of carrots, pumpkins and sweet potatoes comes from the pigment beta-carotene which the body converts into vitamin A, which maintains normal vision. The oranges and mangoes contain vitamin C, which assists normal collagen formation in the skin and helps to keep the immune system functioning normally.
So no excuses, how appetising will your plate look with a rainbow of colours to brighten up these wintry days and think of all the health benefits you will be getting