Color your diet for better health
A well-balanced diet that includes a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables reduce the risk of many non-communicable diseases and is a key to healthy life. These colorful produces are gifts of nature to humanity loaded with a broad spectrum of essential vitamins, minerals and many phytonutrients that are vital for good health. Many of these components act as powerful antioxidants, protecting the body from harmful disease-causing free radicals. Eating a wide range of pigmented produce provides a large number of biologically active compounds to nourish and protect the human body from various diseases.
Nature loaded such healing foods with the power of wonderful phytochemicals. Different colored edibles have a different composition of these powerful antioxidants which play remarkable roles in the human body.Red color edible protect against various disease conditions.Pectin-rich apples bind bad cholesterol and remove it out of the body. Heart healthy flavonoids of apple provide protection to artery wall from free-radical damage.Powerful antioxidant of strawberries, raspberries, and cherries reduces the risk of cancer and protect against heart diseases, arthritis, and diabetes.High concentration of lycopene in tomatoes protects against cardiovascular diseases, cancer and support prostate health.Good concentration of antioxidants and proanthocyanidins in cranberries prevent bacteria from adhering with urinary tract and delivering beneficial health effects.
Blueberries, blackberries, grapes, black currants, and plums are rich sources of powerful anthocyanins, phenolics and various other phytochemicals with strong antioxidant properties. These purple color edibles slow down the process of aging, reduce the risk of heart diseases and are beneficial for brain &bone health.
The dark green leafy vegetables are a rich source of lutein and zeaxanthin and play a vital role in maintaining good health of eye, lung, and liver. Indolesfound in broccoli, cauliflower, and turnips reduces the risk of breast and prostate cancer.Isothiocyanates a strong anticarcinogenic phytochemical found in broccoli.Kiwifruit has natural blood-thinning properties. It supports vascular health by lowering bad cholesterol and reducing the formation of spontaneous blood clots.
White foods have many health beneficial pigments. Allicin found in white garlic helps in lowering high blood pressure, cholesterol and reduces the risk of heart attack and cancer. Onions have the potential to mop up harmful free radicals from the body. Cauliflower contains several anticancer compounds. Pears have a wealth of antioxidants that works to eliminate free radicals from the body.
Yellow/orange color fruits and vegetable viz.papaya, orange, mango, pineapple, melon, lemon, carrot, yellow tomato, yellow maize, yellow pepper, pumpkin loaded with high concentration of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene,beta-cryptoxanthin,zeaxanthin&hesperidin that are good for the health of the eye,immune function and healthy growth and development.
As per recommendation of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) regarding consumption of fruits and vegetables along with food from other groups viz. cereals & millets, pulses, milk & products, sugar and fats,a balance diet for the day should consists of two portions of roots and tubers,one portion of green leafy vegetables,two portions of other vegetables and one portion of fruits (1Portion=100 gm)for adults of both gender at different activity levels. Further World Health Organization (WHO) panel on a diet, nutrition, and prevention of chronic diseases recommend that a person should eat at least 400 g fruit and vegetables a day to maintain optimal health.
For the safe and adequate supply of above said essential health-promoting components from fruits and vegetables it is important to purchase a variety of these fresh produces without any damage or decay. Make sure that pre –cut produce is properly packed and refrigerated. Before handling, fruits/vegetables wash hands thoroughly. Rinses with running water to remove microflora, insects, and pesticide attached to it. Throw away the outer layer of leafy vegetables. Avoid soaking for long duration for minimizing loss of water soluble vitamins. Limit peeling to minimize the antioxidants load of edible skin.Avoid prolonged boiling of vegetables to reduce losses of thermolabile micronutrients. Choose steam and microwave cooking. To recapture leached nutrients loss makes use of water for stocks or gravies used for boiling vegetables. Cook vegetable or fruit into large cut pieces to reduce the nutrient losses by limiting the surface area. Serve cut-up vegetables and fruits immediately, longer they stand, more the nutrients would be lost.
Fill your basket with these five colorful categories of foods (red, blue, green, white & Yellow/orange) as each color makes a unique contribution to maintaining good health & decreasing the risk of developing various chronic diseases and offer your body wider ranges of health benefits.
Dr. G. B. Bhatt
Nutrition & Dietactics