The phrase ‘eat the rainbow’ is a great piece of nutritional advice that everyone can follow – I love the simplicity of it, as anyone, even children can easily follow this, without the need for understanding the science behind it. Variety is key for a healthy diet in general, and this definitely applies to fruit and vegetables too. Choosing fruit and veg of different colours is a guaranteed way to get the widest variety of nutrients. This is because the different colours of fruits and vegetables represent different combinations of phytochemicals, natural protective substances with a range of health benefits.
Phytochemicals are actually used by the plants themselves to protect them against environmental stressors, such as weather and pests and also to attract insects and birds for pollination. There are hundreds of different phytochemicals with strong protective powers and the amazing news is that when we eat them, those protective powers are passed on to us! Strong antioxidant action is one of the key features of phytochemicals, protecting our cells against damage from free radicals. They also confer a host of health benefits including protecting the heart, helping maintain healthy vision, keeping the immune system healthy and protecting us against premature ageing and disease.
Unfortunately, many of us in the UK tend to stick to a few ‘old favourites’ and are not very adventurous with our fruit and veg. Eating the rainbow is therefore a great inspiration to introduce more variety, which will in turn, help you to get the highest nutritional value out of your 5 (or preferably 7!) a-day. Each different colour has its own unique set of health benefits, so the more colours you eat the wider the range of beneficial nutrients you will be consuming. Ideally, pick at least one serving of fruit and veg from each different colour group every day if you can.