We all know we should eat a recommended 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, but did you know that…
– many of the pigments that give fruits and vegetables their wonderful colours provide unique nutritional benefits, too.
– these compounds help defend against damage that can occur to cells and tissues as a result of normal, everyday body processes of breaking down substances to form energy – and they help keep inflammatory processes in check, which reduces the risk of the development of serious health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease.
– colourful fruit and vegetables are often associated with a single nutrient or condition – for example, we might eat oranges for vitamin C, or carrots because their vitamin A helps promote healthy eyesight. But, it may not be enough to just simply eat whole fruits and vegetables. Research is telling us that combining these foods may be more beneficial than eating them alone.
– raw foods are fine – but cooking colour-rich foods helps to release these powerful compounds from the cell walls of the fruit or vegetable, making them up to six times more available to the body than when the foods are eaten fresh. For example – tomatoes release more Lycopene when they are cooked in soups and sauces.
You can get your five a day in some unusual places too. Fruit juice counts as a portion, as do tinned and dried fruits and even some processed products. Many products have information on the packet about whether they qualify as a serving. Why don’t you add a little side-salad to a meal, or maybe some fruit. Included with something else it’s easier to get your quota into a days meals, rather than living like a rabbit on lettuce!
Cooked or raw, no one can deny that increasing your fruit and vegetable servings is a great first step toward reaping the benefits of the compounds they contain. So get cooking, chopping and chomping – enjoy mixing all the colours of the rainbow on your plate!
With thanks to contributor Linda Wilson for this article.
A bright and sunny one of your five a day