We often hear about eating more ‘greens” but did you know eating other colours of fruit and vegetables are just as important. Each colour family of plants contains a unique set of chemicals called phytochemicals (plantchemicals) which work with vitamins, minerals and fibre to promote good health and lower the risk of disease. Eating different colours of fruit and vegetables ensures a variety of phytochemicals and nutrients.
Here are some of the benefits contained in the different coloured fruits and vegetables:
Red fruits and vegetables get their colour from the phytochemicals lycopene and anthocyanine. Lycopene is known for its cancer fighting properties while anthcyanine provides antioxidants which protect cells and lower the risk of heart disease. Red fruits and vegetables are also sources of flavonoids which reduce inflammation. So be sure to add red fruit and veg to your diet to :
- Reduce risk of certain cancers, especially prostrate cancer.
- Reduce risk of diabetes
- Reduce risk of heart attacks and stroke
- Improve skin quality
- Soak up damaging free radicals
Examples: Tomatoes (most concentrated source of phytochemical), watermelon, pink grapefruit, guava, cranberries (also a good source of tannins – preventing bacteria attaching to cells).
Sunny fruit and vegetables get their colour from the phytochemical carotenoid. Rich in beta-carotene (which turns into Vitamin A) and the antioxidant Vitamin C.
- Protects the skin against the sun
- Increases the immune system
- Promotes eye health and vision.
- Decreases risk of various cancers particularly the lung and stomach.
- Reduces risk of heart disease
- Promotes healthy bones and joints
Examples: Carrots, butternut, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, mangos, apricots, peaches
Glean plants and vegetables contain chlorophyll which gives them the green colour. Chlorophyll is filled with antioxidants which promote well-being. Green foods like broccoli and cabbage contain phytochemicals and isothiocyanates which assist the body removing carcinogens. Green vegetables also contain Vitamin K (essential in blood clot formation), folic acid, potassium and Omega-3 fatty acids. They also contain Lutein, which is good for eye health. Other benefits include:
- Aids tissue healing
- Detoxifies the body
- Provides digestive enzymes
- Restores energy and vitality
- Reduces risk of cancer especially colon and bladder cancers
- boosts the immune system
Examples: Broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, spinach, avocado, kiwi fruit (vit C)
Blue and purple fruit and vegetables get their colour from anthocyanin (also contained in some red fruit) and resveratol which have many health benefits including:
- Wards off heart disease and prevent clots.
- Promotes longevity
- Reduces risk of Alzheimer’s
- Boosts memory
- Protects cells from damage
- Reduces risk and slows progression of cancer
- Helps fight inflammation
Examples: Eggplant, blackberries, prunes, plums and blueberries (which are said to contain the highest antioxidant activity of all foods).
Although not a colour of the rainbow, white foods contain anthoxanthins and have a range of health benefits.
- Can protect against certain cancers
- Keeps bones strong
- Lowers risk of various heart ailments
- Helps lower cholesterol
- Reduces inflammation
- Helps balance hormones
The average adult should eat upwards of 7 servings of different fruit and vegetables a day for a healthy diet. As each colour contains unique health benefits, with no one colour being superior to another, what we need is a balance of all colours for a healthy balanced life.
Be sure to add a variety of coloured fruit and vegetables in your diet this week