We’ve all heard the advice that we should eat a variety of fruit and veggies in a mixture of colours, but do you understand why?
Properties - contain antioxidants including lycopene (in tomatoes ), anthocyanins (red berries including strawberries ), ellagic acid (strawberries, raspberries and pomegranate) and astaxanthin
Health benefits - Lycopene gives red fruits their colour. It is thought to have antioxidant properties that may help protect against CVD and has been reported to help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol
As well as the usual vitamins, minerals and fibre that come with all fruits and vegetables , the pop of colour will add interest to everyday dishes.
Suggestions - add pomegranate seeds or cherry tomatoes to a green salad or cous cous
Add strawberries / raspberries to a bowl of porridge
Chopped tomatoes/red peppers added to omelettes
Orange fruit and veg are high in carotenoids such as alpha-carotene and beta-carotene
Beta-carotene gives yellow and orange fruits and veg their colour and is converted to vitamin A in the body, where it helps us make hormones and keeps our eyes healthy
Carrots, butternut squash, pumpkin and sweet potato are all good sources of this vitamin- hence the saying that carrots will help you see in the dark
Citrus fruits like oranges are low in vitamin A but high in vitamin C. Dried apricots are a great source of fibre, iron, potassium and calcium
Why not add dried apricots or mango to your porridge or cereal?
Substitute chips or mash potato to sweet potato
Health benefits: As with orange fruit and vegetables, beta-carotene gives yellow varieties their colour.
Foods like sweetcorn, peach, papaya and egg yolk are also rich in the antioxidant beta-cryptoxanthin.
Like beta-carotene, our bodies can convert beta-cryptoxanthin into vitamin A.
Studies have suggested health benefits, such as reducing the risk of rheumatoid arthritis and certain cancers.
Add yellow peppers to chilli, bolognese and salads, or swede to casseroles.
Sugar Snap Peas
The pigment chlorophyll gives green fruits and vegetables their colour, but many green vegetables are rich in other nutrients too.
Broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale and pak choi are all sources of sulforaphane and glucosinolate. These vegetables also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, as do peas, sweetcorn, yellow peppers and eggs.
Health benefits: Studies suggest that sulforaphane may help protect against blood-vessel damage and certain cancers. There is evidence to suggest lutein and zeaxanthin-rich vegetables, like kale, spinach, broccoli and peas, may help prevent and slow the progression of an eye disease, age-related macular degeneration.
Rather than focusing on a particular fruit or vegetable, aim to increase the total amount of both in your diet, and don’t forget leafy green vegetables.
Top tip: Stir peas into cooked rice to add colour and nutrients.
BLUE / PURPLE
Anthocyanins give blue and purple foods their rich colours.
Health benefits: Anthocyanins are powerful antioxidants, which may have a role in protecting cells from damage. Purple beetroot is rich in nitrates, which may help reduce blood pressure.
As well as beetroot, purple lettuce, carrots, green beans, spinach, cabbage and radishes are high in nitrates.
Overall, there are many ways that fruit and veg can help reduce your risk of CVD, so it’s best to focus on eating more and a wide variety.
Top tip: Slice ready-cooked, vacuum-packed beetroot (not pickled or in brine) and add it to salads or toast.
WHITE / LIGHT BROWN
Anthoxanthins are the pigments that create white or cream colours.
Health benefits: Some studies have suggested that anthoxanthins may reduce the risk of CVD and inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. potato – a starchy carbohydrate – gets a lot of bad press, but potatoes are one of the biggest sources of vitamin C in our diets and are full of potassium too.
Eat the skins for extra fibre and avoid adding fat when you cook them.
Bananas (which have creamy flesh under that yellow skin), parsnips and mushrooms are also good sources of potassium – an important mineral for normal heart and muscle function.
Top tip: Make mash exciting with cooked celeriac or Jerusalem artichokes. Either mash on their own or together with potatoes.