When it comes to eating a balanced diet, getting a broad spectrum of nutrients is essential. But how can you do this? It’s simple…taste the rainbow! Not in the sense that one sweets company would like us to, but with a diet rich in fruit and vegetables in an array of colours.
The colour of a fruit or vegetable is generally an indicator of what vitamins and minerals it is rich in, so here’s the munch guide to what these colours mean.
Growing up we’re told to eat our greens to make us strong, and indeed leafy greens like spinach and kale are rich in iron which is fundamental to maintaining our red blood cell supplies. Green vegetables are coloured by chlorophyll which contains high levels of vitamin A, C and E – it is highly alkaline and rich in antioxidants.
Some green vegetables like cucumbers, green peppers and peas contain Lutein, which works with other chemicals to help keep eyes healthy.
Berries, plums and beets are all strong purple colours due to their high level of antioxidants. These protect cells from damage and may help reduce risk of various serious health problems.
Red fruits and vegetables like tomatoes are coloured by lycopene, which are powerful antioxidants. Lycopene in foods containing cooked tomatoes, e.g. spaghetti sauce, plus a small amount of fat are absorbed better than lycopene from raw tomatoes.
These get their bright hue from caretenoids. Beta-Carotene in vegetables including sweet potatoes and carrots is converted into vitamin A, which helps maintain healthy eyes and mucous membranes. Caretenoids may also be beneficial to your heart health.
Citrus fruits like oranges are rich in vitamin C and folate,a B vitamin that can reduce the risk of birth defects.
So don’t just eat your five-a-day, make sure you’re eating a variety of coloured fruits and vegetables for the most health benefits!