From as early as I can remember, the ubiquitous sentence “you need to eat 5 portions of fruit and veg a day” has been a consistently repeated mantra.
And for good reason. Many people underestimate how important fruit and vegetables are, especially younger children, whose bodies rely more on the vitamins and minerals provided by these foods.
However, apart from knowing that one needs a minimum of 5 portions a day, little is said regarding the range of fruit and vegetables we should actually be eating. Do 5 bananas constitute 5 portions? Is eating 5 portions worth of broccoli and carrots at teatime enough? Should we always eat the same types?
If you have found yourself asking similar questions… you are not alone.
Here’s a tip… EAT THE RAINBOW!
Ideally, we should all be having as wide a variety of fruit and vegetables as possible, as each variation can help our bodies in different ways. For example, we benefit best from a spectrum of colourful foods, as they provide the widest range of essential vitamins and minerals for optimum health.
Different Fruits and Vegetables (F&V) and their specific benefits:
Red pigments in particular contain very strong nutrients:
Pomegranates: Full of antioxidants which are great for your heart and memory but moreover fight against harmful radicals. Radicals work to harm cells within the body so incorporating pomegranates is a great health booster.
Watermelon & Tomatoes: These low-calorie foods are full of great vitamins and minerals such as Vit A, C and potassium. More importantly though they both contain strong phytochemicals called lycopene which have been studied and suggested to have certain cancer-fighting properties.
Red Peppers: One of those vegetable used by so many in recipes around the world. Commonly known as the red bell pepper, this vegetable contains a good amount of Vit B6 and magnesium, both of which work well together and help support our adrenal function. It also helps calm our nervous system, so is great for those of us who get a bit anxious.
Orange & Yellow pigment also have a wide array of health advantages.
Oranges and Lemons (Citrus fruits): Excellent sources of Vit C which heightens our immune system and can help reduce the risk of getting colds and illnesses. Citrus fruits also contain hesperidin a phytonutrient that improves our blood flow. So essentially on a cold day, eating an orange can keep your body nice and warm.
Sweet Potatoes & Carrots: Contain beta-carotene which works to protect and rejuvenate damaged cells. When Beta-carotene is consumed it is converted to Vit A in the liver which then acts to support our vision and keep our eyes healthy.
Green pigment which we all know are one of the healthiest types of foods we can eat.
Spinach, Lettuce, Kale: These leafy green vegetables are fantastic sources of folate. Folate is needed to create DNA and other forms of genetic material, but it is especially important for women during pregnancy as this B-vitamin is shown to help prevent neural tube defect in unborn children.
Kiwis, Avocados, Broccoli: Rich sources of Vitamin K. Vit K plays a key role in creating proteins that work as blood clotting agents (heal wounds properly) and also maintain good bone health.
Blue & Purple pigment, probably the food group consumed least of all, but just as highly important.
Eggplant, Grapes & Red Cabbage: Contain a phytochemical called anthocyanins which give the F&V their natural dark colour. This is associated with lowering inflammation in the body.
Blueberries and Plums: These have another phytochemical compound called flavonoids, reported to contain certain anti-cancer and anti aging properties.
Hopefully these examples provide some insight into the benefits of eating a wide mix of coloured fruit and vegetables. Why not experiment and see what different colours make up your dietary rainbow.
Thanks for reading.