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Eat the rainbow!
We often say 'eat the rainbow' when it comes to fruit and vegetables, but what nutritional boost and value does each colour offer? What is the actual benefit of eating a yellow pepper over a green pepper?
It's unsurprising this is all a bit of a minefield, but there is a nutritional reason we say 'eat the rainbow'!
To put it simply, each colour group packs a different nutritional punch and to get the benefit of all these antioxidants, phytonutrients and nutrients, we are encouraged to eat a wide spread of different coloured fruit and vegetables.
So, let's take a look at the nourishing components of each colour!
Green leafy vegetables are rich in chlorophyll and this pigment is what gives them their deep green colour, but they often include other nutrients too.
- Brussel sprouts
- Pak choi
Are also sources of sulforaphane and glucosinolate. Furthermore, you can find lutein and zeaxanthin in vegetables like spinach and peas.
But what do these mean for my health?
There has been research to suggest these can help protect your blood vessels, improve eye health and keep your teeth strong.
Green cruciferous veg are full of Vitamin K, potassium and folic acid too. So fill your plate with pak choi and dark leafy veg. Your body will thank you!
The main pigment in the red colour is lycopene - as well as anthocyanins.
Health benefits of these include:
- Lowering blood pressure and cholesterol
- Improve memory
- Protect urinary tract health.
Lycopene is an extremely powerful antioxidant and thought to also protect prostate health and maintaining breast tissue. Lycopene is easily absorbed into the body when cooked, for example, in a homemade tomato sauce.
So here we're thinking about:
- Bell peppers
This vibrant colour can all be attributed to the fruit's anthocyanin content; a powerful antioxidant which provides numerous heart health benefits.
The darker the colour, the higher the concentration of the phytochemicals.
Blue and purple foods are thought to promote bone health, improve memory and increase circulation. Anthocyanins have also been found to protect our cells in some studies.
Blueberries are particularly known for their extremely high antioxidant level. Purple beetroot is also rich in nitrates, which may help reduce blood pressure.
Other purple fruit and vegetables include:
Orange fruit and veg are extremely high in carotenoids, such as alpha-carotene and beta-carotene.
These give us the yellow and orange pigments in these fruit and vegetables, which is then converted into Vitamin A in the body, which keeps our eyes healthy and looks after our hormones.
This is where the saying comes from that carrots help you see in the dark!
Vitamin A is also needed for a healthy immune system.
- Sweet potatoes.
Pineapple, star fruit, corn and all things bright yellow are also high in carotenoids and promote good digestion and brain function.
And I'm not talking about white products like rice and bread here - more like garlic, cauliflower and onions which all bear great nutritional content.
It is thought the key benefit of white foods is increased immunity, as well as aiding our lymph systems and cellular activity.
Furthermore, onions are bursting with sulphur components which can work as anti-microbial agents.
So, you can see eating the rainbow really can benefit us all - and I didn't even mention here the array of flavours all these delicious produce bring to the plate.
Go on, try a fruit or vegetable you’ve never tried before!