When it comes to eating healthy, people are often confused about what should they be eating, how their plate should look like, which vegetables and fruits they should be eating, etc. The simplest way to make sure you are eating well is to look out for a rainbow in your plate! Making your plate look like a rainbow means, making your plate as colourful as possible like greens, reds, purple, yellow, orange, etc. Consuming a rainbow of vegetables and fruits ensures that you not only get enough of the different nutrients that are necessary for the overall health of the body but also provide much-needed diversity. By eating all the colours of the nutritional rainbow, you will harness the power of these cancer-fighting and immune-boosting foods!
Mr Luke Coutinho, Holistic Lifestyle Coach (Integrative Medicine) explains why so much focus on colours, though?
Ever wondered the reason behind different colours of fruits and vegetables? These colours – red, yellow, purple, yellow, orange, green – are due to the presence of unique disease-fighting chemicals called phytonutrients and each colour stands for a unique phytochemical. It is these phytochemicals which give the fruits and vegetable a unique, vibrant colour to the food and numerous health benefits with it. E.g., Lycopene present in tomatoes reduces breast and prostate cancer, boosts heart, brain, and eye health. It is said that you first eat with your eyes, and kids love making their plates as colourful as possible.
So how to make your food look like a rainbow, and what does each colour signify?
- Lycopene (red colour): Lycopene decreases the chance of prostate and breast cancer. The pigment boosts the brain, heart, bone and eye health. Veggies and fruits that are high in lycopene: watermelon, tomatoes, strawberries, red bell pepper, and grapefruit.
- Beta-carotene (orange colour): Beta carotene has anti-cancer properties, reduces inflammation, supports the immune system, and boosts vision. Foods rich in beta-carotene: carrots, apricot, spinach, yellow pumpkin, and sweet potatoes.
- Vitamin C and flavonoids (yellow colour): Vitamin C rich foods are brimming with antioxidants, help inhibit tumour cell growth, detoxify harmful substances, reduce inflammation, improves heart health and boost your immune system. Vitamin C is commonly found in citrus fruits like papayas, oranges, and lemons, kale, strawberries and broccoli.
- Folate (deep dark green colour): Folate rich foods help build healthy cells and genetic material and boosts heart health. They are iron-rich and help maintain healthy haemoglobin levels. They are also rich in chlorophyll, a plant pigment that helps increase oxygenation levels of the blood and acts as a blood purifier. Foods like citrus fruits, eggs, legumes, asparagus, Brussel sprouts, leafy greens, and beetroots leaves.
- Indoles and lutein (light green colour): Rich in sulphur, Indoles eliminate excess carcinogens, estrogen and support eye health. Foods containing indoles are Brussels sprouts, cabbage, mustard greens, kale, and broccoli. Allyl sulphides destroy cancer cells and reduce cell division. Chives, garlic, onions and shallots have high amounts of Allyl sulphides.
- Anthocyanins (blue-purple colour): Anthocyanins reduce inflammation, destroy free radicals, and are beneficial for the brain. Anthocyanins are found in foods like blueberries, eggplant, cherries, plums, and grapes.
- Resveratrol (pink colour): Resveratrol helps decrease estrogen production, boost heart health, and brain health. Foods rich in resveratrol are peanuts, dark chocolate, cranberries, and grapes.
- Fibre (brown colour): Fibre again offers a wide range of health benefits. It helps balance sugar levels, reduces blood sugar spikes, regulates bowel movements, lipid control, digestive health, and aids in weight management. Apart from this, it also removes carcinogens. Fresh fruits, dark green vegetables, healthy nuts and seeds, and whole grains are all rich in fibre.
Luke Coutinho tells us ways to add this rainbow to their plates?
- Stir fry vegetables or sautéed vegetables
- Adding chopped vegetables to rice, dal, sabzis
- Filling in sandwiches
- Vegetable sticks with healthy dips
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