Our body need variety of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals to stay healthy and nature has colour coded food for that. Colourful fruits and vegetables gives a beautiful picture of health because they contain phytonutrients and compounds which gives distinctive, rich colour, aroma and strength to fruits and vegetables. Aesthetically appealing food catches the eye and mesmerize the taste buds too.
Phytonutrients protect human beings from various chronic diseases and certain cancers. To obtain maximum benefit of phytonutrients, skins of apple, peach and eggplant should not be peeled.
Each Colour on plate with nutrient and their health benefit:
RED fruits and vegetables are nature’s powerhouse on nutrition and health benefits.
Red foods are rich in phytochemicals like lycopene and ellagic acid. Lycopene reduces oxidative stress caused by harmful free radical compounds. It is also said to improve prostate health and reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Red foods protect against heart and lung ailments and reduces the risk of diabetes. Watermelon is also rich in citrulline which may work to treat mild to moderate erectile dysfunction. Strawberries help to prevent and reverse esophageal cancer. Darker red like beets is rich in anthocyanine which have anti-inflammatory effect and assist with weight management.
Found in red bell pepper, strawberry, pomegranate, grapefruit, red radish, tomato, red onion, raspberry, cranberry, watermelon, red apple, cherry, rhubarb
ORANGE & YELLOW fruits and vegetables are rich in Vitamin C and carotenoids. These foods get colour from carotenoids, which are antioxidant precursors of Vitamin A. Our body converts some of these carotenoids, like beta carotene into Vitamin A, also called retinol. These food are also rich in beta cryptoxanthin which strengthens cells. Diet rich in carotenoids plays a role in maintaining vision, reduce risk of certain type of cancers, improve heart health and preserve brain function during aging. Citrus fruits contain hesperidin that increases blood flow and could help to prevent heart stroke.
Found in pumpkin, lemon, orange, sweet potato, carrot, banana, mango, winter squash, sweet corn, yellow and orange pepper, grapefruit, pineapple, papaya, peaches, star fruit, apricot, cantaloupe
GREEN coloured foods are healthiest. They are rich in lutein, isothiocyanates, isoflavones and Vitamin K which is essential for blood and bone health. Leafy green vegetables are full of antioxidants and folates which are good for pregnant women. Kale has as much calcium as milk and broccoli enhances the immune system. These foods get its pigment from antioxidant chlorophyll and carortenoids. It protects against carcinogens and also has cell and liver protective effects. Kiwis alleviate wide range of maladies, from common cold to irritable bowel syndrome to insomnia, and may even help repair DNA damage.
Found in cabbage, spinach, broccoli, kiwi, collard greens, peas, brussels sprouts, green grapes, arugula, asparagus, zucchini, celery, cucumber, avocado, green apple, swiss chard, green herbs like mint, rosemary, sage, basil, coriander and thyme
BLUE and PURPLE foods have pigment anthocyanin and resveratrol which protects against cellular ageing and clots. Anthocyanin also prevents cell damage.
Found in rutabags, turnips, grapes, purple carrot, red lettuce varieties, purple cabbage, black olives, prunes, raisins, figs
WHITE and BROWN foods contain a pigment called anthoxanthin which help in reducing inflammation and free radicals in the brain. This promotes brain health and provides potential protection against Alzheimer’s disease and other types of degenerative disorders. Mushrooms play a key role in supporting immune system via selenium.
Found in parsnips, onion, potatoes, cauliflower, mushrooms, garlic, dates, walnut
We should take care of our meal colour. Eating two servings at each meal is advisable. Select one from each colour and add more veggies. The Mediterranean diet contains a lot of fruit, vegetable and unsaturated oil is frequently rated as the healthiest food by scientists. We must opt for a smaller portions with a varied color palette to enjoy our food. Artificial colouring in foods such as cake and sweets, sadly don’t count towards a varied health diet. Adding colour to meal help us live longer, healthier life as antioxidants present help with managing many chronic diseases.
Dr. Aparna Mishra is a practicing dentist with over 11 years of experience. Her interests include writing especially literature writing.