Who doesn’t love rainbows? We all do, children and adults alike. Now, what if we were to tell you that there is another kind of rainbow that you could eat?
Let us simplify this for you.
The rainbow here is the rainbow colors in the form of foods. We are not talking about the colors in Cadbury gems, Skittles or Marbles. We are talking about food rainbow colors that come packed in natural fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and spices.
Since there are about 6 colors that fruits and vegetables are commonly found in, color coding them helps us identify the benefits of eating each of them. Our Indian cuisine is quite colorful as it is. Anything that is colourful but is not natural will, however, not fall under the food rainbow colours, that we are discussing.
Fruits and vegetables get these colours from compounds called phytochemicals. These phytochemicals help plants protect themselves from predators or insects by emanating bitter tastes.
They help in maintaining the plants’ immune system and also help them attract bees, birds and bears with their colours that help with the pollination.
Effects Of Having Fruits Daily
When consumed in small amounts daily, these chemicals have a positive effect on the human body. Each of the different colours provides a different set of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
These phytonutrients protect us from chronic ailments like diabetes, cardiovascular problems and may also help prevent several types of cancers.
However, each of these colours provides a different set of benefits and including just one of them in isolation into your diet will not yield any magical results.
Benefits of Having These Fruits
If you want to reap the benefits that these fruits of nature provide, look for a rainbow on your plate. Include different red, yellow, orange, green, purple and white foods to your diet throughout the week. You do not have to include all of these colours in one meal but spread them out throughout the week.
There are a lot of options available for each of these colours. Make sure you keep including a variety of fruits and vegetables to avoid falling into a pattern or getting bored too soon.
Ideally, one must have at least four servings of fruits and vegetables each day. A couple of these servings could be in the form of snacks where you munch on some nuts and berries.
Now, if you still aren’t convinced about increasing your intake of fruits and veggies, let’s look at a list of why you should do so.
Quick Benefits of Eating Fruits and Veggies
- It reduces the chances of heart attacks and strokes.
- It lowers the chances of obesity.
- Act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents.
- Supplies dietary fibre naturally
- Have high concentrations of vitamins, carotenoids, electrolytes and all of the above.
- They promote healthy hair and skin.
Scientists have just begun studying these phytonutrients and what they can do for the human body and there are a lot of benefits that are yet to be discovered.
Colors of Food and Their Role Play
Red: Beetroots, pomegranates, tomatoes, cherries, apples, watermelon, red grapes, cranberries and other red coloured vegetables fall in this category. These are all rich in carotenoid lycopene and some of these like watermelons may have a higher content than the others.
You can include a cup of beetroot salad, watermelon cubes, tomato chutney, cranberry sauce, etc. in your diet. Red foods help heart and lung diseases and also some forms of cancer.
Orange and Yellow: This one is quite famous for the high vitamin C and A content which helps build strong immune systems, defend against several infections and improve vision. Oranges, pumpkins, squashes, pineapples, bananas, yellow peppers, cantaloupes, jackfruits, carrots, gooseberries, apricots, etc.
Yellow fruits also regulate enzymatic activity, help modulate the glycaemic impact of different foods and maintain healthy gut microbiomes.
Some dishes for the Indian palette could be side dishes made from pumpkins and squashes, gooseberry (amla) pickles, dried apricots or apricot jams, pineapples candied using jaggery and the famous gajar halwa.
Green: We’ve been told to eat our greens since childhood and most of us looked for ways to avoid them. However, did you know that greens were packed with cancer blocking agents like isocyanates, indoles, etc. apart from contributing majorly to our daily dietary fibre intake? Green vegetables and fruits include but are not limited to spinach, broccoli, drumsticks, cucumbers, okra, beans, kiwi, asparagus, avocado, pears, etc.
Did you know that green tea falls in this category too? Apart from your daily cup of green tea, you could have these vegetables in a pot of sambar, mixed vegetables, green salad, beans poriyal, stir-fried okra.
Purple and Blue: This colour category includes fruits and vegetables like brinjals, blueberries, blackberries, black raisins, grapes, plums, etc. These purple and blue coloured foods are rich in antioxidants called anthocyanins and prevent the formation of blood clots or delay cell aging.
Some common dishes you can have without getting bored are baingan ka bharta, blueberry jams, dried prunes, etc.
White and Brown: Mushrooms, cauliflowers, radishes, garlic, onion, radish, etc. fall under this category. These foods are said to have anti-tumour properties and several antioxidants.
While all the fruits and vegetables mentioned above do have these vitamins and phytonutrients, there are many other benefits that they have to offer which aren’t mentioned in the article.
Having a complete wholesome diet will yield better results than including just a couple of them.
If you have been used to an unhealthy diet, a sudden shift might be difficult. You can make this change gradually. While shopping look at your basket to see if it looks colourful.
The more colourful it looks, the better. However, do not fixate too much about these colours.
Ensure that each meal is well balanced and nutritious and consists of proteins as well as carbohydrates.