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Health Hub > Live smart > Why rainbow-coloured fruit and veg are good for you

Why rainbow-coloured fruit and veg are good for you

Assemble a colourful plate – it’s one of the best ways to make sure you’re including a variety of vitamins and minerals in your diet.

One small thing: Ditch the crisps and dive into a summer snack box that reflects a rainbow of good health: pack strawberries (red), carrot sticks (orange), mango (yellow), kiwi (green), and blueberries or grapes (purple). That’s also your “five-a-day” sorted.

Most people are drawn to colourful food – a bright red apple, a glossy yellow pepper or a juicy purple plum signify variety, flavour and goodness.

Research shows that the colour red stimulates appetite, but there’s more to colour than you might realise, especially when it comes to food. The natural pigments or phytonutrients in fruit and vegetables offer a range of health benefits that can reduce the risk of chronic diseases like cancer, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Phytonutrients protect plants from excessive sunlight or temperature fluctuations, disease and inconsistencies in the soil, and when you eat fruit and vegetables those beneficial properties are transferred to you.

What colours should you eat?

There are five main colour groups:

  • Red
  • Orange/yellow
  • White/brown
  • Green
  • Purple/blue

The good news is that fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruit and vegetables all count. Before using canned vegetables, though, make sure you rinse the excess brine off, and discard the fruit juice from the canned fruit.

Health benefits of colourful fruit and veg

Here are just some of the health benefits you’ll enjoy from eating these colourful fruits and vegetables:

Health benefits: Lycopene is an antioxidant that gives tomatoes their colour. There are myriad other healthy pigments found in red-coloured fruits and vegetables.
Eat: Red apples, cranberries, cherries, tomatoes, radishes, watermelon, raspberries and strawberries.

Health benefits: Beta carotene gives this group its punchy colour. The pigment is converted to vitamin A in the body where it plays a role in immunity and eye health.
Eat: Carrots, butternut, pumpkin, sweet potato, oranges, peaches and pawpaw.

Health benefits: Many of the same beta-carotene benefits apply to this yellow group of vegetables and fruits, but in addition, there is another antioxidant called beta-cryptoxanthin, which is believed to offer additional health benefits.
Eat: Mangos, pears, yellow bell peppers, sweetcorn, bananas and pineapples.

Health benefits: Chlorophyll is responsible for the green colour in this group of foods, which along with other beneficial plant chemicals, such as lutein and xeaxanthin, provide potent antioxidant benefits.
Eat: Peas, cucumbers, kale, spinach, asparagus, avocados and baby marrows.

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