We all know that eating fruit and vegetables is vital for a healthy body. The greater the variety of fruit and vegetables in our diet, the more chance of getting all the nutrients and fibre we need. The World Health Organisation says a diet high in fruit and vegetables could help prevent major health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and certain cancers.
That’s a pretty good incentive to eat your fruit and veggies. But knowing what is good for us and achieving that goal – while juggling life in the 21st century – is the big challenge. For many years, health campaigns have urged people to follow the ‘2 plus 5’ rule: two pieces of fruit and five vegetables a day, but it’s the five-veggie target that has many people stumped. Let’s face it, getting kids to eat their greens is no mean feat, and faced with the choice between brie and broccoli, a lot of adults would also sooner give vegetables the swerve.
But with a wealth of amazing recipe options at our fingertips thanks to Google, eating a rainbow of healthy foods has never been easier. Here are five colour themed champions to add to your trolley next time you visit your local fruit store.
Apart from being delicious, red foods also contain a host of antioxidants and goodness, so get stuck in to red vegetables like capsicum and tomatoes this season.
You’ve probably heard of lycopene – it’s the powerful antioxidant in tomatoes that can help reduce the risk of cancer and protect against heart disease. Nutritionists say the body absorbs more lycopene when tomatoes are cooked which is even more reason to dust off grandma’s homemade pasta sauce recipe.
Orange foods: the alpha performers
Adding orange coloured foods to your trolley will also provide a big health kick.
Orange foods are high in carotenoids, including alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, so grab some pumpkin, sweet potato and carrots for great skin, good eyes and a strong immune system. Turn them into a soup and hey presto, that’s another veggie in the food rainbow.
It’s all yellow
Cold Play’s Chris Martin was onto something when he sang ‘It’s all Yellow’.
Perhaps he didn’t have corn on a cob in mind, but there’s no denying that yellow foods – like their orange cousins – are rich in vitamin A and a potent carotenoid with strong antioxidant properties. Yellow foods can reduce your risk of developing inflammatory disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
There’s nothing better than corn and capsicum fritters on a cold winter’s day, the perfect snack to enjoy with some sweet chilli sauce, preferably in front of a fireplace.
Broccoli and gorgeous greens
When your mum said ‘eat your greens’ she knew what she was talking about.
Green vegetables are the superstars of nutrition. Packed with fibre, vitamins and minerals, they can help guard against eye disease and protect against certain cancers. Vegetables like spinach, broccoli, peas and kale are star performers, as are cabbage, brussels sprouts, kale and pak choi.
If you can’t stomach a kale smoothie, you can always hide a cup of grated zucchini in a batch of chocolate slice. They won’t even notice the green stuff.
Blue and Purple
And that brings me to purple. In the junk food aisles, anything blue and purple usually contains some alarming preservatives, but in nature, generally the darker the vegetable the more antioxidants it has.
So, beetroot, eggplant, radishes and purple cabbage are just what the doctor ordered to complete your healthy rainbow of vegetables – all full of nitrates that may help reduce blood pressure and enhance physical performance. When you put it like that, veggies don’t sound too bad at all.