To be the healthiest possible, you need to eat 2 fruits and 5 vegetables every day. This can be easy to do. One helpful tip is to try your best to add one fruit and vegetable to every snack and meal.
Vegetables and fruits are loaded with fiber along with all kinds of essential minerals and vitamins. However, the chemicals that provide vegetables and fruits their vibrant colors (phytochemicals) also have special qualities. Unique health benefits are offered by each color.
Therefore, ‘eating the rainbow’ on a daily basis means more than simply consuming enough vegetables and fruits – it’s all about eating a wide range of food so that your body receives all of the essential nutrients that it needs.
Review our color guide on vegetables and fruits to find out more about the unique health benefits that each color group provides.
There are a number of different antioxidants contained in red foods, including ellagic acid (pomegranate, raspberries, strawberries), anthocyanins (red berries), and lycopene (tomatoes). Lycopene is a fairly powerful antioxidant that can help to protect you against heart disease and lower the risk of cancer.
Top tip: Make sure you cook tomatoes. When they are cooked the body is able to more easily absorb lycopene. So to get the maximum benefit from your tomatoes, make your own sauce, use tinned ones, or lightly cook them.
More: tomato, radish, red kidney bean, red chili, red capsicum, watermelon, strawberry, rhubarb, raspberry, plum, apple.
Orange foods contain rich amounts of carotenoids, including beta-carotene and alpha-carotene, which causes the vibrant orange color of foods like carrots, sweet potato, and pumpkin. Beta-carotene is converted by the human body into vitamin A, which helps vision and good eye health (eating your carrots actually do help your eyes), a strong immune system, and healthy skin.
Top tip: Eat carrots, not tablets. It can be toxic to consume too much vitamin A. Therefore, you should not take vitamin A supplements. Your body can only convert as much vitamin A out of beta-carotene, based on what it needs. Therefore, instead of getting vitamin A from tables, try getting it from foods instead.
More: sweet potato (kumara), pumpkin, orange lentils, orange capsicum, carrot, tangelo, persimmon, peach, orange, mango, mandarin, apricot.
Yellow foods, like orange foods, contain high amounts of beta-carotene, a Vitamin A source for the body. These foods also contain beta-cryptoxanthin – which is a powerful carotenoid that has potent antioxidant properties. Studies have linked them to preventing cancer and also show that increasing your intake of beta-cryptoxanthin by a small amount by lowering your risk to develop inflammatory disorders, like rheumatoid arthritis.
Top tip: Cook using a small amount of oil. Beta-cryptoxanthin, like all carotenoids, is better absorbed by the body when there are some fats with them, so be sure to dress or cook your yellow vegetables with some oil.
More: yellow zucchini, yellow tomatoes, sweet corn, yellow capsicum, button squash, yellow peach, yellow nectarine, star fruit (carambola), pineapple, lemon, grapefruit.
Some of the most nutritionally loaded foods are green vegetables and are loaded with minerals, vitamins, and fiber. Vegetables like kale, peas, broccoli, and spinach contain zeaxanthin and lutein, help to protect you against age-related eye diseases. Vegetables such as pak choi, kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and broccoli are sources of glucosinolate and sulforaphane as well which can help to protect against blood vessel damage (which can result in stroke and heart attacks) and certain cancers.
Top tip: Go hipster, Kale is the hipster’s favorite vegetable, and for very good reason. It is easy to use and very versatile along with being one of the top all-around vegetables. You can eat it raw in salads, stir fry it, use it in stews and soups, and even make chips with it!
More: green zucchini, spring onion, spinach, silverbeet, peas (snap, sugar, snow, and green peas), green olives, okra, lettuce, leeks, kohlrabi, green kale, green herbs, globe artichokes, cucumber, celery, green capsicum, Chinese cabbage, cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, bok choy, fresh broad beans, green beans, asparagus, pear, lime, kiwi, melon, grape, avocado.
Anthocyanins are potent antioxidants that provide purple and blue foods their color and can help to protect cells against damage and may reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Beans, carrots, purple cabbage, radishes, and beetroot are rich in nitrates that can help to enhance physical performance and reduce blood pressure.
Top tip: Go dark! In general, the darker a vegetable or fruit is, the more antioxidants it contains. Fortunately, many vegetables have some purple versions and many of the top fruits are dark (grapes, berries, figs, plums).
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