Jun 29, 2011

A Colourful Diet

Not really a person who is disciplined enough to follow very many healthy-eating habits, there are a few that are really easy enough even for someone like me to pick up.  One of them is to include bright colourful vegetables and fruits in the diet.  I like this rule just because it makes the plate look so much more attractive, but it also is the easiest method to load up on antioxidants.  Here's a breakdown of some interesting facts I found online.

tomato lycopene health benefits colourful diet

Reds - Tomato:   The bright red colour in tomatoes comes from a carotene pigment lycopene.  Benefits:  Protects against cancer.  Improves skin protection towards UV rays.  Tomatoes cooked in oil are the best way to get a good dose of this nutrient (I knew there had to be something more than just taste to the onion-tomato bhuna masala :P :P).  Also present in red carrots, papaya, water melon, red peppers.

broccoli carrot green leafy vegetables nutrition recipes healthy food diet
Orange/Yellow - Carrot:  The bright orange colour in carrots come from the high concentration of beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the human body.   Benefits:  On its own as well as with being a rich source of vitamin A, betacarotenes act to protect the body against free radical damage (act as antioxidants).  As is the case with tomatoes, the amount of nutrient absorbed by the body increases when the carrots are steamed or stir-fried.  Other sources of beta-carotene:  Pumpkins, sweet potato, yellow bell peppers.

Mangoes, my favorite fruit for the summer, are another great source of carotenoids, dietary fiber, vitamin C, and polyphenols.  Slice and eat, whip up a lassi, or cook them up in a tangy yogurt sauce - yummy goodness every way :D

broccoli carrot green leafy vegetables nutrition recipes healthy food diet

Green - Broccoli, any green leafy vegetable like spinach, etc.  Most green veggies seem to be filled to the brim with nutrients.  Broccoli, for instance, is a rich source of vitamin C, dietary fiber, and has anticancer properties.  For cooking, steaming or microwaving is a better option than boiling (to preserve maximum nutrition).

spinach leafy green vegetables healthy benefits diet iron vitamin c absorb

Green leafy vegetables like spinach are rich sources of iron, but most vegetable sources of iron (non-heme iron) are difficult to absorb by the body.  The presence of vitamin C helps increase this absorption (maybe a dash of lime/lemon juice).

healthy benefits nutrition diet guacamole avacado recipe
Another way of going green is with avacados - rich source of dietary fiber and vitamin E.   A bowl
of gauacomole and some crisp khakras, you cannot get more lazy healthy eating than that!
Berries and Cherries - I know those are fruits, not really colours, but I don't know how else to describe the colours ranging from puplish black to bright cherry reds.

cherries berries polyphenols health benefits diet nutrition colourful foodsBerries (the fruits) and grapes are generally rich sources of polyphenols which are the pigments that give them their bright colours.  Benefits:  Heart healthy, antioxidants, and protect against cancer.  Wash them and eat them - easiest way to get a dose of antiaging skincare :D

pomegranate seeds healthy benefits nutrition food colourful diet
Not a berry or a cherry, pomegranate is another bright coloured
fruit that is a rich source of vitamin B5 and polyphenols.

These are some of the ways I add colour and some good nutrition to my otherwise pointless diet.  What about you...what are you favorite diet colours?

Note:  This is a very general post, and the information provided here is what is obtained from online referencing and/or health-related articles in books.  This is not qualified medical/nutritional advice, and please consult your doctor/nutritionist/dietician for accurate/reliable information.