Thursday, November 8, 2012

Colour yourself healthy!

Many of us were told as children to ‘eat our greens’, but what about our reds, blues, oranges and yellows? A novel way of looking at nutrition is by categorising fruits and vegetables by virtue of their colour. The reason behind colourising the diet all has to do with specialised plant chemicals (called phytochemicals) that impart colour as well as flavour to fruits and vegetables.

Phytochemical nutrients, like the ones found in colourful fruits and vegetables, can help prevent heart disease, certain cancers, and other diseases attributable to lifestyle and ageing. When it comes to choosing fruits and vegetables, go for those with deep, vibrant hues and pick from a variety of colour groups. Each plant pigment, from the red in tomatoes to the blue in blueberries, is associated with its own unique health benefit and choosing from a variety will ensure you get the full range of phytochemicals.

• Red – A plateful of tomatoes and chillies will have you dosing up on the powerful antioxidant lycopene. Diets rich in lycopene have been shown to have a negative association with certain cancers, including lung, colon, liver, and prostate. Red foods also help maintain a healthy heart and are great sources of vitamin C.
• Purple –
Eat beetroot or cherry to fight against cancer, improve circulation, and ward off age-related memory loss. Purple fruit and vegetables are also rich sources of vitamin C, folate, fibre, and potassium.
• Orange –
A carrot or a serving of pumpkin a day is said to be beneficial in preventing cancers of the lung and breast. It also helps protect the skin from sunburn. Beta-carotene plays an additional role in enhancing the immune system. Orange fruit and vegetables are also high in folate, vitamin C, and vitamin E.
• Green -
The carotenoid pigment lutein gives colour to kiwi fruits, green peppers, and other similarly shaded veggies. Lutein is best known for its protective effects on vision. These foods are also good sources of folate, minerals, and fibre and help maintain strong bones and teeth.

Adding more colour to your daily diet is not only a great way to better health, but also helps add some variety and fun into a diet that can become boring and monotonous. Every time you bite into a deeply coloured fruit or vegetable, think about the cocktail of essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidants, enzymes and phytochemicals that are working together to prevent disease and promote your health and wellbeing.

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