Why? Because these are the colours of the deeply-hued fruits and vegetables which provide the wide range of vitamins, minerals, fibre and phytochemicals your body needs to maintain good health and energy levels. As research is now showing, diets rich in these fruits and vegetables may protect against the effects of ageing, and reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and other chronic illnesses.
Phytochemicals are natural plant compounds that may provide a variety of health benefits. Many of the bright pigments in fruits and vegetables come from phytochemicals.
Fruits and vegetables can be grouped into seven colour categories:
Red Group. Foods in this group contain the caretenoid lycopene, which helps the body to rid itself of free radicals which damage genes. Lycopene seems to protect against breast and prostate cancers as well as heart and lung disease. We need to eat foods such as tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit to get these benefits. One glass of tomato juice will provide half of the recommended amount of lycopene.
Yellow/Green Group. The foods in this group contain the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin which are believed to reduce the risk of age-related eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Lutein may also reduce atherosclerosis. You need to eat foods such as avocado, collard greens, mustard greens, spinach, yellow corn and honeydew melon.
Orange Group. These foods contain alpha and beta carotenes. Alpha carotene protects against cancer. Beta carotene is converted by our body into vitamin A. It helps the body repair damaged DNA , protects the skin against free-radical damage and as most of us have been told, is good for night vision. So eat up your carrots as well as mangoes, apricots, cantaloupe, pumpkin, winter squash and sweet potatoes.
Orange/Yellow Group. Foods in this group contain beta cryptothanxin, a phytochemical which enables our body's cells to communicate with each other. It may also help prevent heart disease. Eat pineapple, oranges, tangerines, peaches, papayas and nectarines to receive these benefits.
Red/Purple Group. This group of foods contains anthocyanins - powerful antioxidants which improve brain function and may delay the ageing of cells in the body. They are also believed to protect against heart disease by preventing blood clots. Eat beets, blueberries, blackberries, purple grapes, eggplant, cranberries, apples and strawberries. You can even include a glass of red wine!
Green Group. The sulforaphane,isocyanate and indoles present in this group ward off cancer by inhibiting carcinogens in the body, which is why you need to eat up your broccoli, cabbage, bok choi, kale and brussel sprouts.
White/Green Group. Foods in the onion family such as leeks, scallions, garlic and chives contain allicin which has anti-tumour properties. Other foods in this group such as celery, pears, white wine and endives contain antioxidant flavanoids such as quercetin and kaempferol.
Lucinda Cotter is an independent wellness consultant and online weight loss mentor. Visit www.realwellnesscentral.net for a free weight loss profile.