I am sure most of you have probably been told or heard the old saying that at each meal you must “eat the rainbow”. Although this concept is a very simple one, it works SO well because if you’re eating the rainbow each meal I can almost guarantee that you’re eating plenty of nutrient dense fruit and vegetables.
Also if you have taken a look at the rainbow recently it lacks a few colours, those being deep-fried yellow, sugar-y white and the gluten-y, grainy browny white. By following this motto you can be sure you’re eating plenty of vitamins and minerals because often the pigment in fruits or vegetables is because of different vitamins or minerals.
The only problem with the idea of eating all the colours is that there are way to many sugar, coloured lollies and food products out there… Eating these is not eating the rainbow, that’s eating chemicals, dyes and additives. So maybe to rephrase the old saying instead of eat the rainbow it could be “eat a rainbow of whole, natural foods”. Let’s break the colours down and study the benefits of each:
Red- red includes food such as tomatoes, red apples, capsicum, strawberries and many more. In general red foods contain nutrients including lycopene, ellagic acid, Quercetin, and Hesperidin. These do many things such as lower blood pressure, reduce tumour growth, lower LDL cholesterol levels and reduce free-radicals in the body (anti oxidising). More recently cooked tomato in the likes of pasta sauces has been proven to be high in lycopene which helps cut down free-radical damage, especially good for protecting your skin from cancer or age related damage.
Orange- orange foods are renowned for Vitamin A and carotenoids. Orange food is good for repairing damaged cells, preventing cancer and vision. Orange foods include carrots, sweet potato, apricots and pumpkin.
Yellow- High in Vitamin C. Particularly orange/yellow foods are great for preventing inflammation and improving circulation. These foods include lemons, pineapple, nectarines and tangerines.
Green- we all know the importance of dark leafy greens,which are possibly the most important cancer fighting foods available due to their high levels of phytochemicals sulforaphane and indoles. Also green foods have lots of the complex B-vitamins which can be hard to find elsewhere. Green foods include kale, spinach, brussel sprouts and broccoli.
Blue/Purple– blue and purple foods fall together as their pigment is quite similar. Foods include blueberries, purple grapes, beetroots and eggplant. Purple/blue foods contain high levels of antioxidants which are number one in terms of preventing ageing. They are also very good at preventing and reducing the growth of cancer.
So next time you sit down to a meal, study the colours of your plate and take note of which ones are missing, then strive to have every colour at the next meal.
Keep healthy! :)