Just like our tongue, our eyes, nose etc. also participate actively when we eat our food. Hence, it is highly important that the food should appeal to all our senses, especially eyes! Because, according to a popular adage, ‘We eat with our eyes first’! Our meal should be enticing enough for our eyes to feel hungry. And the easiest way to do it is by making our plate look colourful. Different colours have different effects on our eyes and soon enough, we will be relishing our food. However, the effect of colourful food items is not only limited to our eyes!
When I was a kid, my mom always ensured that my platter was colourful and her reason was completely different from the one stated above! Eating different colours of food is not only a treat to our eyes but also to our body!
I remember in school my science teacher used to advise us to eat green vegetables and I always wondered what do these green vegetables have in common, except the green colour? As I grew up I found the answer to this – the different colours in vegetables and fruits contain different types of nutrients! Nature has beautiful ways to communicate to us about its valuable resources.
Hence, to ensure that we get all the nutrients from our meal, we should always have a rainbow platter. For eg: Our lunch should have Chapati (cream colour), Vegetable (green colour), Dal (yellow colour), rice (white colour), Salad (red, yellow and green colour), mint/ coriander chutney (green colour), a desert (any bright colour). Just like the rainbow, our meal should consist of 5-7 different colours.
I know your curiosity isn’t satisfied yet! You must be wondering what colour has got to do with nutrients. One word says it all: phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are the substances that occur in plants and provide amazing benefits to our health. A specific colour doesn’t mean that the food contains only one particular phytochemical class. The food contains multiple phytochemicals, natural pigments, and vitamins and minerals. Flavonoids are the antioxidants that give plants their colour.
Here are different colours found in foods and their benefits-
- Red–rich in lycopene and anthocyanins
Functions-improves heart and circulatory health improves memory, decreases the risk of certain cancers, supports urinary tract health.
Sources –cherries, tomatoes, red bell peppers, beets, cranberries, strawberries, watermelon, pomegranate, apples, red grapes.
- Orange-rich in Vitamin C, carotenoids, bioflavonoids
Functions –increases immunity, healthy skin, decreases risk of cancer, promotes a healthy heart.
Sources-carrots, orange, sweet potato, peach, mango, papaya, apricot
- Yellow-alpha and beta carotenes
Functions-healthy skin and eyes increase immunity decrease the risk of some cancers.
Sources- pineapple, yellow bell pepper, star fruit, golden kiwifruit, lemon
- Green-rich in lutenes and indols
Functions –helps keep eyes healthy, protects against some types of cancers, reduces the risk of birth defects.
Sources-green apple, asparagus, broccoli, avocados, green beans, spinach, peas, kiwi, cabbage, cucumber, green grapes.
- White/cream –rich in anthoxanthins, allicin
Functions-lowers cholesterol and blood pressure reduce the risk of stomach cancer and heart disease.
Sources-banana, cauliflower, garlic, ginger, mushroom, turnip
- Purple/Blue-rich in anthocyanins
Functions- protect cells from damage reduces the risk of cancer, stroke and heart disease, improves memory functions and promotes healthy ageing.
Sources-blackberries, blueberries, eggplant, raisins, plum, prune
Always remember, the brightness of the foods is directly proportional to the antioxidants you receive from it. These antioxidants help in fighting free radicals in our body aids anti-ageing and a better immune system. Get a younger looking skin by just eating such colourful fruits and vegetables. Trust me, you will not need any supplements for a glowing skin.
You see, eating a rainbow is a completely win-win situation. Quickly rush to your nearby fresh fruits and vegetable market and get different colours of veggies and fruits!
Such colourful foods will certainly add happy colours to your life!
Vaishali is a nutritionist by profession and a passionate writer and lecturer. Teaching nutrition, making lives better and disease free by has been her motive since past few years.”Your body achieves only what your mind believes!” is her mantra.