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In her bestselling book Eating in Color: Delicious, Healthy Recipes for You and Your Family, health expert Frances Largeman-Roth highlights the benefits of eating vegetables and fruit of varying colours.
She further states that if parents refer to fruit and vegetables according to their colours, they will succeed in encouraging their children to eat them. For example, Largeman-Roth offered her daughter Willa “reds, oranges and greens” instead of beets, sweet potatoes and broccoli, which she claims resulted in Willa trying new, healthy foods.
The book has spawned a ‘coloured food revolution’ of sorts, and has led to nutritionists recommending fruit and vegetables of different colours to patients due to their health benefits, which include improved overall health and even weight loss.
Here is a guide to eating in colour:
Blue and purple fruit and vegetables (including blueberries, eggplant, figs and plums) are rich in anthocyanin, an antioxidant which improves balance, hand-eye coordination and short-term memory. Large amounts of phytonutrients in the pulp of blue and purple fruit is believed to improve gut health, boost circulation and prevent blood clots.
Green vegetables (including broccoli, cabbage, kale and spinach) are rich in indoles and lutein which protect the body against age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. High levels of beta-carotene and folate help bone and muscle regeneration, iron promotes red cell production and fibre aids digestion.
Orange and yellow fruit (including lemons, oranges, papaya and mangoes) are high in beta and cryptoxanthin carotenes which build immunity against a host of diseases, ranging from respiratory tract infections to cancer, enhance brain function, and reduce arthritic pain and inflammation. Hesperidin, a flavonoid present in high doses in citrus fruit, helps maintain cardiac muscles, while vitamin C prevents allergies and the flu among other ailments.
Pink and red fruit (including beets, grapefruit, pomegranates and tomatoes) are believed to prevent cancer due to the presence of lycopene and anthocyanin. Red berries are rich in vitamin C, potassium and fibre, which aid in cell regeneration, regulating blood pressure, and lowering LDL (bad cholesterol).
– Dr Beenish Israr
The writer is a researcher at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), South Korea.
First published in the Health Advertiser Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on April 13, 2014.