Eating a Rainbow

(see recipe below for Rainbow vegetables with avocado dressing)                                                                                                      nutrition-food-and-colors-604x272

By being adventurous with colour your daily diet could not only look good but it could be doing you good too. Choose fruits and vegetables that echo the colours of a rainbow – think Yellow, Orange, Red, Green, Purple & Blue!

Fruits and vegetables get their colour from the naturally occurring pigments, or phytonutrients, contained within them. Phytonutrients provide health benefits, including acting as antioxidants that help neutralise cell damage caused by free radicals; damage that can contribute to the development of chronic disease and accelerate ageing. Phytonutrients found in brightly coloured fruit and vegetables include Glucosinolates, Flavonoids, Anthocyanidins and Carotenoids.

So boost the benefits of a healthy diet by eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables that will add flavours, textures and eye-popping colour to your plate.

  •          Yellow /Orange –  Choose from lemons, grapefruits, pineapple, melon, peaches, clementines, mangoes, apricots, carrots, swedes, butternut squash,  peppers, pumpkin and sweetcorn. Orange and yellow plant foods contain carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A which is important for a healthy immune system plus supporting repair of cells and healthy vision. Beta-cryptoxanthin, another carotenoid, may help reduce inflammation.

  •          Red – Choose from strawberries, raspberries, watermelon, pomegranate, cranberries, rhubarb, pink grapefruit, pepper, tomatoes, radish, red chilli, apples, cherries.The carotenoid, lycopene, is abundant in naturally red-coloured foods such as tomatoes, which may help protect against certain cancers due to its potent antioxidant properties. Anthocyanins, found in red fruits, may help support heart health plus having cancer protective properties and reducing risk of urinary tract infections.

  •          Green – Choose from asparagus, avocado, green beans, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cucumber, cress, courgette, kale, kiwi, leeks, lime, mangetout, peas, peppers, rocket, watercress. Chlorophyll gives these fruit and vegetables their colour and has been linked with reducing cancer risk. Many green vegetables, especially the cruciferous vegetables contain phytonutrients known as glucosinolates and indoles ; a good intake of these may help reduce cancer risk, in particular cancer of the lungs and digestive tract. Lutein and zeaxanthin (carotenoids) which are present in green leafy vegetables, along with their potent antioxidant properties they have been associated with promoting eye health.

  • Purple/Blue – Choose from aubergine, beetroot, red cabbage, red onion, plums, red grapes, blueberries, blackcurrants, blackberries. Dark berries are a good source of immune-boosting vitamin C plus containing the phytonutrient, quercetin, which is believed to have anti-histamine properties that help reduce the symptoms of allergies. Also found in purple & blue coloured fruits and vegetables are anthocyanin, a heart health-promoting phytonutrient and ellagic acid which may have cancer protective properties.

Eating a rainbow-coloured array of fresh fruit and vegetables daily is a tasty and enjoyable way to maximise your intake of health-promoting phytonutrients plus increasing your intake of fibre, vitamins and minerals.

 

Try this recipe from Patrick Holford’s Optimum Nutrition Diet Cookbook (Piatkus) – you can use any combination of salad vegetables and fruit , I like to add chopped beetroot, finely sliced fennel or chunky chopped yellow pepper.

Rainbow Vegetables with avocado dressing (serves 2)

  • 6-8 cherry tomatoes, cut in half

  • 2 sticks celery, cut into diagonal lengths

  • 5cm length of cucumber, cut into thick rounds

  • 6-8 baby carrots, trimmed

  • A few sprigs of flatleaf parsley

Avocado dressing:

  • 1 small avocado, peeled and pitted

  • ½ small clove of garlic

  • Juice of ½ lemon

  • 2 Tbsp natural live yogurt

  • Salt and black pepper to season

  1. Start by making the avocado dressing. Place all the ingredients in a blender with 2 Tbsp of water and process until smooth. Add more water if the mixture is too thick.
  2. Arrange the vegetables in a colourful pattern on two serving plates. Spoon on the avocado dressing and sprinkle with the freshly chopped parsley. Serve at once.

Next time:  Thrive tips and tricks for a healthful Summer.  Keep up to date by regularly visiting the website or follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

crafted by peajaykay • thrive nutrition Ts & Cs