Forget Eating Your Greens, Opt For a Rainbow Instead

‘Eat your greens’ may have been the sentence most commonly heard around the dinner table when you were younger, but there’s a new rule to follow now – eating the rainbow. It seems that avoiding the reds, oranges and purples in our diet could mean that we’re missing out on a range of vital nutrients. By eating the rainbow, we ensure that our bodies get everything they need to stay healthy and strong. Fruit and vegetables contain numerous phytochemicals which act as antioxidants that are used to fight off disease, keep us looking young and to maintain strong bodily processes. They are used to ‘mop up’ free radicals which are molecules that can cause damage to the body if they’re left in the body. As a result, eating plenty of fruit and vegetables could keep your body healthier for longer, helping you to prevent heart disease, cancers, cataracts and even premature ageing. Researchers have found that the phytochemicals could also offer other health benefits, so on top of your five a day you also need to make sure you get a range of colours into your diet as well.

Eating a range of colours doesn’t just mean that you’re getting a range of nutrients – it also means you’ll be able to add a range of textures and flavours to your diet as well. You may think you’re limited when it comes to ingredients that have bright colours, but there’s more to choose from than you think. With red as your inspiration, why not choose between cranberries, cherries, apples, rhubarb, radishes, tomatoes, peppers and red grapes? These ingredients contain lycopene, which is a carotenoid, as well as anthocyanins which give fruit and vegetables their distinctive red colour. They also have high levels of vitamin C, which is great for your immune system. These ingredients can help to protect you from certain cancers, in particular prostate cancer. Our bodies absorb lycopene more easily when the foods have been heated, so eat tomatoes and such ingredients cooked rather than raw.

Green vegetables are easier to find, but you don’t need to limit yourself to spinach. Lettuce, cucumber, cress, courgette, mangetout, apples and kiwi fruit all count towards as well. These contain chlorophyll and nutrients such as iron and calcium. They also contain lutein which is helpful for protecting your eyes. Purple foods could be anything from raisins, red onions and aubergine to blackcurrants and blueberries. These contain anthocyanins which keep the heart healthy and lower the risk of strokes. Researchers have also found that the nutrients within purple and blue foods could help to improve your balance, short-term memory and co-ordination. Lastly, orange and yellow foods can come from oranges, grapefruits, pumpkin, sweetcorn, squash, peaches and pineapple. These are great sources of vitamin C, as well as being loaded with beta carotene. Most yellow or orange foods help to protect your eyes and skin, as they enable the body to convert beta carotene into vitamin A. Eating the rainbow may seem daunting at first, but as long as you ensure that you eat a varied selection of fruit and vegetables every day, you’ll be on track to getting your daily dose of these health-boosting nutrients. If you’re in doubt, why not have a smoothie in the morning, which you can load up with delicious and healthy ingredients? Add a few portions to your dinner and have a piece of fruit as a snack, and you’ll be reaching that five a day goal more easily.

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