There’s all sorts of information around when it comes to what foods we should be eating, a quick search on the internet can suggest calories are the be all and end all, that we should be devotedly monitoring grams of fats, carbs and protein and that we should read the small print on every food label we purchase.
Here at Lean Lunch, we like to keep it simple, honest, nutritious and delicious.
There is one aspect of eating that is easy for everyone to consider and is a handy guide to the goodness on your plate – colour.
Now, we don’t mean a big bright bowl of artificially coloured sweets (not that you shouldn’t enjoy all things in moderation if you want to!). We mean the honest, natural, amazing colours of whole foods and simple ingredients that are full of flavour and goodness.
The bold sunset orange of a carrot, the deep, rich red of beetroot, the fun, sunshine yellow of a lemon and the garden green of spinach. We could easily go on here. Don’t be afraid to step away from the beige and into the exciting world of colour that natural ingredients provide.
It is actually thought that only one in three adults consumes the ideal level of vitamins and minerals from their diets.
On a scientific level, phytonutrients are chemicals produced by plants. Phytonutrients are responsible for the vibrant colours of fruit and vegetables. Lycopene is an example of one of these chemicals, and it is this which gives tomatoes and watermelons their beautiful red colour.
Foods that contain phytonutrients have many health benefits and antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Below are some ideas of where to find your rainbow of foods:
- Red foods such as tomatoes, strawberries, pomegranate, watermelon, beets, radish, peppers and red potato
- Orange foods including carrots, peppers, pumpkin, squash, sweet potato, peach, mango, papaya and oranges
- Yellow foods such as melon, yellow potato, bananas, sweetcorn and pineapple
- Greens such as spinach, kale, broccoli, avocado, cucumber, courgette, bok choy, cabbage, and romaine lettuce
- Whites including cauliflower, coconut, garlic, onions, leeks and chives.
- Blues and purples such as blueberries, blackberries, raisins, plums, figs.
- Whole grains including brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, wheat and barley
- Nuts and seeds
- Legumes including peas, lentils, soybeans and dried beans
By enjoying a balanced plate, which contains a rainbow of the above items each day, you can really make the most of the benefits that nature provides us with.
Different colours can promote wellbeing in our bodies in different ways. For example, red foods can play a role in keeping the heart healthy. Orange foods can boost vitamin A, help the immune system and aid eye function. Yellow foods also help to protect cells and contain folic acid. Purple and blue berries help to keep brain function sharp.
Here are our three top tips for ensuring you add more colour into your meals:
- When doing your shopping list, jot down the colours of the rainbow and add a few items by each.
- Keep your colourful foods visible! You’re so much more likely to use the food if it’s conveniently visible and to hand when you’re in the kitchen.
- Add a serving to your existing meals – for example you could pop a handful of broccoli onto your evening meal plate.
No one colour is better than another, which is why eating a rainbow is the perfect combination. They say variety is the spice of life – it’s time to banish the beige and eat the rainbow!