Rainbow On Your Plate: Benefits Of Coloured Fruits And Vegetables
Have you heard about rainbow food? It is nature's way of showing us the right way to a nutritious diet. Let the colours of the rainbow be your visual guide to better health. We tell you how
By Monali Bordoloi • 10 min read
Imagine this — as you sit down to eat, your plate looks no less impressive than a rainbow! Now, don’t you think that would be the perfect moment to capture for your Instagram feed? And your child would also be attracted, or at least curious, if you invite her to feast on the rainbow! However, don’t be fooled by the sugar-laden colourful rainbow food fads popular on photo-sharing sites. We are talking about naturally colourful rainbow-hued fruits and vegetables.
With the ongoing pandemic, discussions about improving our immunity to fend off diseases are everywhere. Rainbow food, with its naturally healthy nutrients, is the need of the hour. So, it’s time you bring in that natural rainbow to your table!
However, do you know the science behind this easy-on-the-eyes food trend?
What are Phytonutrients?
Do you wonder why some fruits and vegetables have vibrant, distinct colours? Fruits and veggies get their distinctive colour from a compound named phytonutrient. Apart from the colours, phytonutrients are also responsible for distinctive tastes and aromas of fruits and vegetables. Phytonutrients are also required by plants to strengthen their immune system. We all know that fruits and vegetables have many health benefits. But do you know most of these potent benefits come from phytonutrients that are also responsible for the colour of the plant?
Phytonutrients are one of the most important ingredients in a plant-based diet. This compound is said to have anti-cancer and anti-heart disease properties and is known to strengthen the immune system.
There is a strong correlation between colours and nutrition of the food. No wonder why these rainbow-hued foods are favourite among nutritionists. All over the world, dietitians and nutritionists are recommending that we should welcome more plant-based and colourful rainbow food to our plate.
This is what Priya Kathpal, nutritionist and founder of Nutrify, tells us about eating rainbow coloured food.
“Eating a rainbow means more than just getting enough fruit and veggies – it’s about eating a wide variety of foods so your body gets all the essential nutrients.
Fruits and vegetables come in a range of colours – red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple – and this isn't just nature’s way of adding colour to your plate. Each colour serves a nutritional purpose. And these nutrients can prevent diseases. It’s recommended that at mealtimes, half of your plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables.””
How to eat your rainbow food?
Now you know that rainbow food is good for you. But how do you make it a part of your diet? We tell you how! It’s simple. Make it a habit to include as many fruits and vegetables as possible in your family meals – fruits for breakfast, salads for lunch and dinner, every single day. Bring in new and colourful fruits and vegetables to your child’s plate as well once she starts on solids. You can even use different coloured fruits and veggies to introduce the concept of colours to your pre-schoolers to arouse her curiosity for food!
Nutritionists are of the view that when it comes to health benefits, no one colour is superior to another. So, try to bring in a balance by eating different-hued food. Also, skins of fruits and veggies are the richest sources of phytonutrients. So, eat the whole fruit along with the skin (in most cases). The next time you peel off skins from apples and peaches or eggplant (brinjal), think twice. You are losing out on the goodness of phytonutrients too!
Benefits of different coloured fruits and veggies:
Let’s check out what fruits and veggies of different colours have to offer in terms of nutrition. However, keep in mind that there are hundreds of phytochemicals in one plant. We have listed some common benefits of each colour. Many health benefits overlap too.
Red: Fruits and vegetables such as red bell peppers, apples, strawberries, tomatoes, cherries, red grapes, raspberries, red onions, cranberries and watermelons come under red-coloured food.
Why you should eat it: Red-coloured foodruits is the are store house of essential nutrients named carotenoid lycopene and ellagic acid which protects us from heart and lung diseases.
Orange: Oranges, orange-coloured peppers, pumpkin and carrots
Why you should eat it: These orange-coloured fruits and veggies are full of beta- carotene which is good for healthy vision, skin, cell growth and immune system.
Yellow: Bananas, pineapples, yellow squashes and yellow bell pepper
Why we should eat it: Yellow-coloured fruits and vegetables contain carotenoids and thus are known to improve heart health, vision and digestion, and boost the immune system.
Blue: Blue berries, grapes
Why we should eat it: Blue-hued fruits and veggies contain an antioxidant named anthocyanins, which contains anti-aging properties. These are also good for heart health as it blocks the formation of blood clots.
Purple: Brinjal, purple cabbage, beets and plums,
Why we should eat it: It has antioxidants and helps in mineral absorption by the body.
White: Radish, cauliflower, garlic, onion and mushroom
Why we should eat it: White-coloured vegetables contain compounds that reduce the risk of cancer and activate natural antibodies. Garlic and onions contain compounds called allicin and quercetin. Both these compounds have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. Selenium in mushrooms play a key role in boosting immunity.
Green: Cucumbers, spinach, peppers, green beans, broccoli, cabbage, avocado, kiwi, green grapes and green apples
Why we should eat it: Green-coloured fruits and vegetables contain compounds like lutein, isothiocyanates and isoflavones that fight against cancer. Greens are also rich in vitamin K and calcium, which are essential for blood and bone health.
How much rainbow food should you eat:
Nutritionists recommend that, in a day, we should ideally consume a total of four and a half cups of colourful fruits and vegetables. You could easily achieve this if you consciously plan to include at least two servings of fruits and veggies in every meal. Try to stock up on fruits to eat as snacks too.
Do you need inspiration on how to include rainbow food in your meals? Check out the food presentation in these three Instagram accounts.
If you feel that your family is low on immunity-boosting fruits and veggies, whip up a colourful rainbow on your table and we bet everyone will ask for more! Happy eating!
Also read: Buddha Bowls: Tasty And Healthy
About the author:
Written by Monali Bordoloi on 26 August 2020.
Reviewed by Shirley Johanna, nutritionist on 27 August 2020.
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