Eating 5 vegetables and 2 fruits a day can keep you at your healthiest – this includes both, adults and kids too. Being a parent, I understand the day to day challenge of putting healthy food on the table. However, I find when I explain things to my kid’s they are more likely to accept and assimilate information, no matter how challenging it is. So, I decided to explain the benefits of adding a variety of colors to the plate, instead of enforcing it. Now, my kids understand and appreciate the value of colored vegetables and fruits and don’t fuss to eat them.
‘Eat A Rainbow’ is a simple way to explain to a child that the color of a particular food can tell you a lot about its nutritional value, and eating a variety of colors is one way of getting all those nutrients into your body, to help live a healthy and active life because adding different colors contribute to a balanced diet, rich in Vitamins, Minerals and a lot more.
If you are looking to expand your culinary horizons while eating a nutritious meal, eating the rainbow is fundamentally a healthy eating tip. The variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables have enormous healing powers with each color having its own distinctive ability to heal while providing nutrients required for the body. Plants speak a language in color. For example, red fruits and vegetables help fight cancer, reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease and improve skin quality, while green fruits and vegetables boost the immune system, help detoxify the body and restore energy and vitality. These are not myths, educating our children will help them choose to live a healthy and balanced life. So, let’s look at a few of the colors and their benefits.
RED: the pigment responsible for this colour in vegetables and fruits are phytochemicals including lycopene and anthocyanins. They help by:
- Improving the quality of skin
- Improving vision
- Decreasing the risk of heart diseases and strokes
- Reducing the risk of getting diabetes
- Reducing the risk of getting certain types of cancers and many more.
Eating fresh Raspberries is better and more beneficial than consuming dietary supplements. While smaller strawberries provide more nutrients and less water than large ones, watermelon provides a large amount of water content required for the body. Did you know this fruit is more beneficial when kept at room temperature because it tends to develop more nutrients? Tomatoes on the other hand, provide more lycopene when they are cooked, so consuming sauces and stews are more beneficial. So, don’t forget to include red foods to your diet.
ORANGE & YELLOW: ever wondered what that lively color in orange or a lemon is? Well, it called Carotenoids. Any fruit or vegetable with the color from the sun has plenty of Vitamins and Fibres, and these come with a wealth of health benefits from the eyes to the bones, like:
- Promoting healthy joints
- Promoting collagen formation
- Fighting harmful free radicals in the body
- Improving the Immune System
- Reducing the risk of Heart Diseases
- Aiding eye health and reduces the risk of macular degeneration of the eye
- Protecting the Skin
Let’s look at some of these fruits and vegetables individually and see how they help. Oranges have an abundance of Vitamin C, when eaten peeled, the pith provides a whole lot of fibre, Mangoes too are high in fibre, and are a great source of vitamins A and C. They also contain folate, B6, iron and a little calcium, zinc and vitamin, but due to a high level of fructose present in them they should be consumed in moderation. Boiling sweet potatoes with skin helps retain Vitamin C, they also contain Pro-Vitamin A, Manganese, Potassium and Vitamins B5, B6 and E and are relatively high in Fibre. Lemons (who doesn’t love homemade lemonade), a quarter cup of lemon juice contains almost 31% of the daily recommended intake of Vitamin C along with Folate and Potassium, that’s why the old adage, ‘When life throws you Lemons, make lemonade’, – it’s good for health.
GREEN: the pigment that makes plant look green is called Chlorophyll, these are rich in antioxidants and are generally known to be the key promoters of well-being. While children shy away from these, it is up to us to educate them on how important green vegetables and fruits are for our nutritional balance. The health benefits of these are
- Restores energy and vitality
- Reduces the risk of certain types of cancer
- It’s a good detox
- Aids in healing tissues
- Its enzymes help in digestion
- The immune system gets boost
Green vegetables and fruits are vital for our overall well-being. Spinach, yes spinach, its green and makes even Popeye the sailor man strong because it contains Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Vitamin A, Iron and Folate. Broccoli on the other hand is good for the heart and the bones, it has Vitamins A, C, E, K and is a good source of fibre and proteins, it also has calcium, magnesium, iron, it is a super healthy food. There is an array of green leafy food and they can be eaten raw, so take advantage of its benefits.
BLUE / PURPLE: these fruits and vegetables owe their colour to the presence of anthocyanin and resveratrol that bring out their colors, and render a plethora of health benefits, such as:
- Boosting memory
- Reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s
- Fighting inflammation
- Helping in anti-ageing
- Helping slow down certain cancers
The most popular fruit in this color has to be blueberries. Best eaten raw, so we don’t destroy their nutrients; one cup of blueberries contains 24% of the daily recommended quantity of Vitamin C, and 36% of Vitamin K. A great way to enjoy them is having a blueberry smoothie. There are other vegetables and fruits like Aubergine, Purple Yam, Blackberries, Plums and Purple Cabbage that contain Vitamins A, B6, K and are loaded with fibre and protein. Children need to be encouraged to eat a lot of these vegetables and fruits as they help keep unwanted inflammation at bay and keep you looking younger.
WHITE & BROWN: these fruit and vegetable are not on the rainbow but are a healthy choice purely because they help strengthen the bones. Rich in anthoxanthins and allicin, including this group in the diet has various health benefits like:
- Keeping the Bones Strong
- Fighting against certain types of cancers
- Lowering cholesterol
- Balancing hormones
- Reducing the risk of heart ailments
In addition, condiments like garlic and ginger are favoured by many due to their various health benefits. They are even used in ancient medicine as a prevention and treatment of colds, coughs and other ailments. They contain manganese, Vitamin C, B6 and fibre Vitamin B3 and B6 and trace amounts of Iron, Potassium, Vitamin C, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Zinc and Folate. Other fruits and vegetables like potato, cauliflower, banana, radish, onions and mushrooms help in lowering cholesterol and strengthening the immune system. So, it is advisable to offer the kids an array of these fruits and vegetables and help them make healthy choices, so that they receive a variety of nutrients.
One thing that never fails to works for me is getting the kids involved in the process, so get your children to design a rainbow in their plates and share the pictures in our blog. This will enthuse them to become a part of what they eat while enjoying the process and food.