People often talk about eating colourful food and top chefs nowadays attempt to incorporate as many colours of food on their dishes as possible, but why?
Not only do vivid colours make food more fun and appetising but fruits and veggies in vibrant colours actually provide great health benefits. A variety of fruits and veggies deliver disease-fighting phytochemicals. People who eat generous amounts of colourful produce are likely to have reduced risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart diseases, etc.
Different coloured foods contain different vitamins and minerals and since no single food can provide you with the variety of nutrients your body needs eating foods of various colours can help ensure you get the variety you need.
Let’s start with the first colour of the rainbow – Red.
Red is a very important colour for your health especially with summer being just around the corner. All the summer fruits are in season and tomatoes are ripening on the vine. Simply incorporate a little red into your food plate daily to get some amazing health benefits.
• Lycopene – a powerful antioxidant that can help reduce risk of some types of cancer (particularly prostate cancer), cardiovascular disease and macular degeneration
• Flavonoids – are powerful antioxidants found in plant pigments that fight cell-damaging free radicals. Just like the other antioxidants (eg. vitamin C, E), flavonoids have been shown to reduce risk of cancer, heart disease, and stroke.
• Resveratrol – a key ingredient in red wine (grapes!) which has anti-inflammatory properties that helps prevent damage to blood vessels, reduces bad cholesterol and thus keeps your heart healthy.
So make sure you fill your plate full of a good selection of red fruits and veggies!
Here are 6 healthy red foods to help you get your fill:
- Cherries: contain very high concentrations of antioxidants and are also high in dietary fibre, vitamin A, and potassium. Not only that, they are rich in anthocyanin, a phytochemical which alleviates pain and reduces inflammation. Don’t worry if they are not in season just yet — opt for frozen or dried cherries instead.
- Pomegranate - contain high amounts of polyphenols (almost 3 times more than green tea!) - antioxidants that have been linked to preventing cancer and heart disease. It is also good source of potassium and dietary fiber and is high in vitamin B and vitamin C.
- Red Peppers – whether sweet or spicy, they are a very good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, vitamin B6, and folate, as well as minerals such as potassium and manganese. Chile peppers even contain capsaicin, a phytonutrient that has been shown to help reduce inflammation and relieve arthritis.
- Strawberries – Would you have ever guessed that 1 serving (~8) of strawberries contains more vitamin C than an orange? They are a wonderful source of health promoting antioxidants and are high in dietary fiber, vitamins A, C and E and manganese as well as folate, B complex vitamins.
- Tomatoes – contain tons of of vitamins C and A, and are high in potassium and fiber. They are also rich in lycopene, an antioxidant which may be beneficial against cancer and heart disease. To get the most health benefit from lycopene, tomatoes have to be cooked, so sauces and soups are a great way to get the most lycopene onto your plate.
- Watermelon – there is no better way to hydrate on a hot summer day than eating a cool slice of watermelon (or a watermelon popsicle!). It is rich in free radical fighting antioxidants like beta-carotene, vitamin C and lycopene, a phytochemical which has been shown to reduce risk of cancer and heart disease.