Is Your Food Colourful Enough? How to Improve Your Health With Nutrition

How colourful is your food

If humans can see colours so well, it’s because it’s actually important for us to pay attention to them in our diet. Cooking is an art, the most colourful plates are also the most appealing. And we are more likely to enjoy eating an attractive meal! As it’s recommended to eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day, this section itself represents over a third of the food we eat each day. So let’s go through each colour category and what it actually means for us.

White

White Food

Vegetables in this category include: cauliflower, garlic, shallots, onions, leeks, parsnips, white beans (cannellini, lima beans, navy beans, soybeans), potatoes, brown lentils, mushrooms. Fruits in this category include: bananas (considered white), pears, lychees, white peaches, white nectarine.

Properties and health benefits: White foods get their pigment from anthoxanthins, which may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. Mushrooms, parsnips and bananas are also good sources of potassium, an important mineral for normal heart and muscle function. White fruits and vegetables protect against certain cancers, keep bones strong, and are a heart-healthy choice.

Note: despite being a vegetable, potatoes don’t count in the recommended 5-a-day because they’re classed as a starchy food (from a nutrition perspective). Although, they are an excellent source of vitamin C and potassium! Just avoid adding fat when cooking them and eat the skin for extra fibre.

Yellow

Yellow Food

Vegetables in this category include: butternut squash, swede, yellow peppers, sweetcorn. Fruits in this category include: honeydew melon, lemons, pineapple.

Properties and health benefits: yellow foods are rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. Yellow peppers contain nutrients (lutein and zeaxanthin) that help prevent and slow the progression of eye disease.

Orange

Orange Food

Vegetables in this category include: carrots, orange peppers, pumpkin, sweet potatoes. Fruits in this category include: cantaloupe melon, mangoes, nectarines, apricots.

Properties and health benefits: orange foods are high in carotenoids, converted to vitamin A in the body. It helps us make hormones and keeps our eyes healthy (just in case you were wondering why people say that “eating carrots will help you see in the dark”). Apart from carrots, butternut squash, pumpkin and sweet potato are all good sources of vitamin A.

Note: yellow and orange categories are often put together because of their similar properties. Citrus fruits like lemons and oranges are low in vitamin A but high in vitamin C, which helps with the absorption of iron and wound healing, as well as protecting cells from damage. Yellow and orange fruits and vegetables improve immune function, reduce the risk of heart disease and promote eye health.

Red

Red Food

Vegetables in this category include: radishes, red peppers, red beans, beets, rhubarb. Fruits in this category include: cherries, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, red apples, tomatoes, watermelon, pomegranate.

Properties and health benefits: red foods contain antioxidants, reported to help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol. Lycopene gives red foods their colour. Red fruits and vegetables help fight cancer, reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease as well as improving skin quality.

Green

Green Food

Vegetables in this category include: asparagus, avocados, celery, courgettes, cucumbers, leeks, lettuce, green peas, brussels sprouts, spinach, broccoli. Fruits in this category include: green apples, green grapes, limes, kiwis.

Properties and health benefits: green foods get their colour from chlorophyll but are also rich in other nutrients, like sulforaphane and glucosinolate. They may help protect against blood-vessel damage and certain cancers. Green fruits and vegetables boost the immune system, help detoxify the body, restore energy and vitality. By far the healthiest, you can’t go wrong with this colour.

Blue/Purple

Blue / Purple Food

Vegetables in this category include: red cabbage, eggplant, black olives. Fruits in this category include: blueberries, blackberries, blackcurrants, purple grapes, purple plums, prunes.

Properties and health benefits: blue and purple foods get their colour from powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins. They may have a role in protecting cells from damage. Blue and purple fruits and vegetables fight cancer and unwanted inflammation and help keep you young.

References:

Everyone loves a good rainbow! Don’t forget to eat varied colours to guarantee a healthy diet! (I’m not talking about skittles…). You can also check this super useful infographic about the benefits of eating the rainbow.

Is your food colourful enough?

Big Girl x

Various Health Benefits of Matcha Tea, a Powerful Ingredient

Japanese matcha tea

I don’t remember how I discovered matcha but I’ve been a huge fan since. Matcha latte, matcha tea, matcha pastries, give me matcha in any way, I just love the earthy taste of it. Talking about the many benefits of matcha will give me the opportunity to talk about Japan indirectly, as this is where it comes from. With my Japanese roots (thanks mum!), I went to a tea ceremony in Japan when I was a kid and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was matcha… but at the time I probably didn’t like it. Japanese have been making and drinking matcha for centuries. I’m not saying it’s thanks to this ingredient alone but they have the highest “healthy life expectancy” in the world. They must be doing something right!

Various health benefits

There are tons of health benefits associated to matcha. What I like about it is the fact that you consume the entire leaf, unlike traditional green tea when you discard the leaves afterwards. The plant is ground down into a very fine powder, which is mixed in hot water (you need a bamboo whisk to dissolve it properly) before consumption. Because it contains the nutrients from the entire tea leaf, it results in a greater amount of caffeine and antioxidants than typically found in green tea. I would say it’s an acquired taste though, it’s probably a good idea to try it with some sort of sweetener first, until you get used to it. Here’s a few things about matcha:

  • It contains a concentrated amount of antioxidants (good to help prevent cell damage and even lower your risk of several chronic diseases), so including it in your diet is a quick and easy way to increase your antioxidant intake!
  • It contains 70 mg of caffeine per cup (1 teaspoon of powder), which is higher than a can of Coke (and much healthier). Caffeine can boost brain functions with faster reaction times, increased attention, and enhanced memory.
  • It helps speeding up metabolism to increase energy expenditure and boosts fat burning.

And that’s not it! See below all benefits explained by Full Leaf Tea:

health benefits of matcha tea

A must-have in your kitchen

I personally like matcha products from PureChimp, delivery is free if you are in the UK but they do deliver worldwide. I also like the fact that they are part of 1% for the Planet and give 5% of their profits to charities. They only use natural ingredients and they’re environmentally friendly with their packaging. I love it when a company wants to give people the best quality and wants to do good for the planet at the same time. Matcha is a great ingredient you should have in your kitchen anyway, I have tons of ideas how to use it! I like to add it as a flavour in my protein shake for example. But you could also use it as an ingredient for:

  • a hot drink (latte…),
  • a cold drink (frappuccino, iced tea…),
  • baking (cakes, tarts, pancakes, cookies, muffins, brownies… possibilities are endless),
  • dessert cream,
  • a smoothie (with fruits like bananas, kiwis, strawberries… anything you fancy),
  • ice cream (probably my favourite),
  • chocolate (yummy),
  • skin care (it has anti-inflammatory benefits, especially good for sensitive skin),
  • …do I carry on?

Matcha tea has become a trend recently and you can find it easily pretty much anywhere. You just have to watch the quality depending on how you intend to use it (by itself or as an ingredient). Any other matcha lovers among you? As it’s Christmas soon, a matcha gift box could be a good idea for tea or even coffee lovers around you!

Big Girl x