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Nutritional nuggets
What is the colour of your health? Is it red, yellow or green?

Colour is intricately related to your health, here's how.

This may seem like a strange question but the fact is that colour is strongly co-related to health and plays an important role in a consumer's choice of food. In a study, subject sate a meal in colour-masking conditions. Halfway through the meal, lighting was restored to reveal green French fries and red peas. The mere sight of the food induced nausea in many a subject.

Food and colour are deeply linked. In early civilizations, foods were chosen solely on the basis of their colour. They believed that the colours of food imparted physical and emotional properties to the individual who consumed them. Galen, a renowned Greek physician from the second century urged all males to eat red foods and drink red liquids to develop an optimistic and confident attitude.

Today, we have scientific backing which proves that certain coloured foods are rich in particular nutrient. Galen's advice makes sense even today. The Emasase "eating a rainbow"of fruits and vegetables is a simple way of getting as much colour variety in your diet as possible so that you can maximize your intake of a broad range of nutrients. The coloursof fruits and vegetables are a vital clue as to what vitamins and nutrients are included.

Let's take a look at how different colours can influence our health.

Yellow/orange foods Fruit Mango, lemon, oranges, papayas, and pineapples.

Vegetables Carrots, pumpkin, yellow beets, yams, and yellow tomatoes.

Contain beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, flavonoids, lycopene, potassium, and vitamin C. Thesenutrients lower LDL cholesterol and blood pressure, thus keeping your heart healthy. They promote healthy joints, fight harmful free radicals, encourage alkaline balance, and work with magnesium and calcium to build healthy bones. Eating yellows also reduce age-related degeneration and the risk of prostate cancer.

Green foods Fruit Green apples, lime, honeydew melons, kiwi

Vegetables Spinach and other leafy greens, beans, peas, capsicum

Green vegetables contain chlorophyll, fiber, lutein, zeaxanthin, calcium, folate, vitamin C, calcium, and Beta-carotene. The nutrients play an important part in improving digestion and boosting the immune system. They help reduce cancer risks, lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels. Eating greens also support retinal health and vision.

Blue/purple foods Fruit Plums, blueberries, blackberries, figs, grapes, raisins

Vegetables Eggplant, purple cabbage

Contain nutrients which include lutein, zeaxanthin, resveratrol, vitamin C, fibre,flavonoids, ellagic acid, and quercetin. These nutrients act as anti carcinogens in the digestive tract, and limit the activity of cancer cells. Like the greens, the purples also support retinal health, lower LDL cholesterol, boost immune system activity, support healthy digestion and improve calcium and other mineral absorption.

Red foods Fruit Cherries, strawberries, pomegranate, watermelon, apples, grapes

Vegetables Beet, radish, red pepper, red onion, tomato

Contain nutrients such as lycopene, ellagic acid, quercetin, and hesperidin. Thesenutrients reduce the risk of prostate cancer, reduce tumor growth and scavenge harmful free-radicals. For women, they may also lower chances of developing lung, breast, and stomach cancers. They are of value in joint tissues for arthritis. Eat reds to lower blood pressure as well as LDL cholesterol.

White foods Mushroom Vegetables onion, cauliflower, turnip

Contain nutrients such as beta-glucans, EGCG, SDG, and lignans that provide power-packed immune boosting activity. These nutrients also reduce the risk of colon, breast, and prostate cancers. Whites can balance hormone levels, reducing the risk of hormone-related cancers.

SummaryPhytonutrients are responsible for the vibrant colours found in vegetables and fruit. By treating yourself to a rainbow of vegetables and fruit everyday, you can enjoy the multiple health benefits the phytonutrients have to offer. So, what is the colour of your health?

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