They say that if you find the end of a rainbow, you will find a pot of gold. I’m starting to think that if you eat your way through the rainbow, you will find that you feel like gold.
Lame metaphors aside, one of the keys to a healthy diet is to eat a wide variety of foods.
And by eating all foods of different colours you are getting different types of phytochemicals in your diet. Phytochemicals occur naturally in all plants and have protective properties to ward of disease.
Food sources include a wide range of veg, fruits, nuts, seeds, and grains.
Colour your diet with the seven phytochemical food groups below to see the benefits.
1. Red: tomatoes, red grapefruit, and watermelon. These contain the carotenoid lycopene, which helps remove the free radicals in the body that damage genes. Lycopene has been found to protect against prostate cancer plus heart and lung disease. Add homemade salsa to your weekend bacon and eggs by chopping up tomatos, capsicum and a sliver of red chilli.
2. Orange: carrots, mangoes, apricots, pumpkin, squash, and sweet potatoes all contain a-carotene, which protects against cancer. They also contain b-carotene, which the body makes into vitamin A. It protects the skin against free-radical damage and helps repair damaged DNA. B-carotene is also good for seeing in the dark. An added bonus – these nutrients can also be received from other everyday consumed foods like dairy products and meat.
3. Orange-Yellow: pineapple, oranges, tangerines, peaches, pawpaw, and nectarines contain b-cryptothanxin, helping cells in the body communicate and potentially help prevent heart disease. The peel of an orange is high in d-limonene, found to kill cancer cells in humans and animals – Try grating orange peel over porridge alongside roasted almonds and a drizzle of rice malt syrup.
4. Yellow-Green: spinach, mustard, turnips, corn, peas, avocado, and honeydew melon contain carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. These are believed to reduce the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Throw spinach leaves into a salad sandwich or mix into pasta sauce.
5. Green: broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, bok choi, and kale. These contain chemicals that are hard to pronounce like sulforaphane and isocyanate. They also contain indoles. All of these chemicals help to fend off cancer by inhibiting carcinogens. If you’re not too keen on trying kale, start off by popping into a smoothie alongside flavoursome fruits like kiwi fruit or orange – you’ll hardly taste it.
6. White-Green: leeks, shallots, garlic, onions, celery, pears, and chives. The onion family contains allicin, which has anti-tumor properties. Saute some brown onion and serve with your next ‘meat and three veg’ meal.
7. Red-Purple: eggplant, beetroot, prunes, cranberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and red apples are jam packed with powerful antioxidants, anthocyanins with the potential to protect against heart disease by preventing blood clots. They may also delay the aging of cells in the body and the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.Buy frozen packets of berries at the supermarket to have ready for smoothies or quick desserts of yoghurt, berries and cinnamon.
Source and inspiration:
Nutrition and Physical Activity for Health
by Amy D. Rickman, Ph.D., RD, LDN, John M. Jakicic, Ph.D.
Nutrients A-Z, A Users Guide to Foods, Herbs, Vitamins, Minerals & Supplements, Dr Michael Sharon, Australia, 2004