Who doesn’t like to look at a rainbow that wins your heart instantly with its colourful and delightful appearance? Eating a colourful diet which includes the colours of a rainbow not only helps enhance your eating experience but also keep micro nutritional deficiencies and chronic ailments like diabetes, heart disease, kidney ailments at bay. Rainbow diet is nothing but bringing different-coloured fruits and vegetables to your plate together. (Also read: Easy-to-follow weight loss tips for men and women)
Such a diet ensures you have wonderful nutrients, be it phytonutrients, flavonoids, fibre, resveratrol, essential vitamins and minerals, in required amounts and improve not only the functions of your body but also of brain. From minimising inflammation, improving immunity, promoting weight loss to warding off deadly diseases, colourful foods have multitude of benefits.
It is also advised to either boil, steam or stir-fry your meals and avoid cooking methods like deep-frying, to maximise health benefits of colourful foods.
“Colourful foods please the eyes, soothe the stomach and ameliorate health. Colourful foods contain phytonutrients which impart colour to the food. The phytonutrients/ phytochemicals present in these foods have the ability to protect the body from inflammation, various cancers and environmental stress. These foods are also a rich source of fibre which helps in weight loss & management, sugar control, lowering cholesterol level,” says Dr Aparna Govil Bhasker (Bariatric Surgeon) Saifee, Apollo, Namaha Hospitals, Mumbai.
“In the Indian culture, white and brown colours dominate the food plate and the portion of colourful foods (fruits & vegetables) is very small. Most of the times, vegetables are overcooked. Over-cooking not only makes them lose their original colour but it also decreases nutrient content and aroma”, says registered dietician, Mariam Lakdawala.
Mariam Lakdawala also suggests different coloured foods one must eat and their benefits.
Green colour foods:
Green leafy vegetables are very low-calorie foods rich in many important nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, folate, fibre, iron, potassium, calcium and antioxidants. These leafy vegetables contain a variety of phytonutrients like beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin.
• Peas are a good source of vegetarian protein.
• Grapes are a good source of resveratrol, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin K.
• Green Moong is a rich source of folate, potassium, magnesium and fibre.
• Pistachios are a good source of healthy fats, vitamin B6, thiamine and antioxidants.
• Amla is a potent source of vitamin C.
Red colour foods:
Red foods contain phytonutrients such as lycopene and anthocyanin. It also contains ellagic acid, quercetin, fibre, vitamin A and vitamin C.
• Tomatoes are the richest source of lycopene.
• Pomegranates has anti-inflammatory properties.
• Cranberries are rich in pro-anthocyanidin which helps to prevent urinary tract infection and H pylori infection.
• Beetroot is an antioxidant rich food and a good source of potassium, fibre, folate, vitamin C and nitrates.
Blue and purple colour foods:
Blue and purple foods contain nutrients including anthocyanin, lutein, zeaxanthin, resveratrol, vitamin C, fibre, flavonoids, ellagic acid, and quercetin.
• Blueberries are rich in polyphenol antioxidants and anthocyanins.
• Eggplant is a rich source of manganese, a mineral essential for bone health.
• Plums are rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, fibre, cholinergic acid that helps to manage sugars and appetite.
• Black currants are a rich source of vitamin C.
• Purple cabbage is rich in anthocyanin, fibre, provitamin A and vitamin C.
Orange and yellow colour foods
Orange and yellow foods mainly contain beta-cryptoxanthin, beta-carotene and alpha-carotene, nutrients that can be converted into vitamin A. Additionally, these foods contain potassium, zeaxanthin, vitamin C, flavonoids and lycopene.
• Carrot is a rich source of beta-carotene.
• Corn is a source of potassium, lutein, fibre and antioxidant quercetin.
• Lemons are a good source of vitamin C, fibre, vitamin B6 and magnesium.
• Apricots are a source of vitamin A, vitamin E, beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin and vitamin C.
• Orange and yellow colour dals are a source of vegetarian protein.
“Make sure that 50-60% of your plate is filled with these colourful foods so that your health is more vibrant than ever. Also don’t overcook your food. It takes away all the nourishment from it. Each day, make it a challenge to have as many colours as possible on your plate,” says Dr Aparna Govil Bhasker.