Eat a rainbow is a simple guide to a healthy diet. The focus is about using colour codes to identify the consumption of a wide range of fruits and vegetables.
Generally fruits and vegetables are categorized into five general colours – (1) white/brown, (2) yellow/orange, (3) red, (4) green and (5) blue/purple. Each colour carries its unique functions of disease fighting chemicals called phytochemicals. These are the natural chemical properties that give fruits and vegetables their vibrant colours.
What’s in the colour?
BROWN / WHITE
White fruits and vegetables contain a range of health-promoting phytochemicals such as allicin (found in garlic) which is known for its antiviral and antibacterial properties. Some members of the white group, such as bananas and potatoes, are also a good source of potassium.
ORANGE / YELLOW
Carotenoids give this group their vibrant colour. A well-known carotenoid called Betacarotene is found in sweet potatoes, pumpkins and carrots. It is converted to vitamin A, which helps maintain healthy mucous membranes and healthy eyes. Another carotenoid called lutein is stored in the eye and has been found to prevent cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, which can lead to blindness.
Red fruits and vegetables are coloured by a natural plant pigment called lycopene. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that can help reduce the risk of cancer and keep our heart healthy.
Green vegetables contain a range of phytochemicals including carotenoids, indoles and saponins, all of which have anti-cancer properties. Leafy greens such as spinach and broccoli are also excellent sources of folate.
PURPLE / BLUE
The plant pigment anthocyanin is what gives blue/purple fruits and vegetables their distinctive colour. Anthocyanin also has antioxidant properties that protect cells from damage and can help reduce the risk of cancer, stroke and heart disease.
Why is it necessary?
Be creative and adapt it into your lifestyle.
Age and gender are other factors to consider for optimal results.
Children 2 to 6 years old should get three servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit, for a total of five.
Children older than 6, teenage girls, active women and most men should get at least four servings of vegetables and three servings of fruit, for a total of seven.
Teenage boys and active men should get five servings of vegetables and four servings of fruits, for a total of nine.
For a healthier diet, remember to boost your diet with superfoods, include food as many colours as you possibly can, consume more fish, cut down on sugar, salt and saturated fat, drink plenty of fluids and do not skip breakfast.