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

How to Improve Your Diet to Positively Impact The Planet

burger and fries

Have you decided to become a healthier version of yourself? If so, I’m proud of you and I’m looking forward to sharing that journey with you! What if doing that also gave you the opportunity to take actions and save the planet? I hope you are interested because you can actually do both at the same time. Sustainable nutrition is the future we need.

What is sustainable nutrition?

What I mean is changing your food choices provides the simplest and largest impact you can have on the world and your body. Meat production has a heavy impact on the environment and it’s no secret to anyone that red meat (especially beef) requires a lot more land and more water to produce than poultry, resulting in significantly higher climate-warming emissions. By simply choosing chicken over beef for example, you could reduce your dietary carbon footprint by half! Or you can simply remove animal products from your diet to have an even bigger impact on the planet.

Is a plant-based diet the only solution?

I’ve always found it annoying when someone who chose to be vegan tries to make you feel bad for eating meat, but the truth is their diet is the least damaging for the planet. After a lot of research on the matter, my view on the topic has evolved quite a lot over the past few years. I think it’s all about limiting your carbon footprint without necessarily having to remove your favourite foods from your diet, sometimes it makes a vegan diet easy to adopt, sometimes it feels impossible. So for now I’ve decided to go halfway and have at least one plant-based meal a day.

Huel, short for Human Fuel

huel products in my kitchen

One of the reasons I love this brand so much is that they really care about the environment and are making an effort to talk about it more: “Halting climate change is possible, eating for our health is achievable and lowering our carbon emissions is simple. It all starts with changing the way we eat. It’s time to change the way we think about food.” Huel is 100% plant-based and any food waste becomes renewable energy. They provide all nutrients you need and they constantly innovate with new flavours, no wonder why they keep growing (and it’s really good news for the environment).

What can you do to improve your diet and reduce your carbon footprint?

  • choose fish/poultry over beef/lamb
  • choose plant proteins over animal products
  • eat less food high in sugar/fat
  • avoid fried foods
  • limit your consumption of alcohol
  • eat more fruits, vegetables, legumes (lentils, beans, peas and chickpeas), nuts and seeds

How I choose to contribute

Personally, I skip breakfast as part of my intermittent fasting so I have only 2 meals a day (which is not recommended for everyone so make sure you talk to a dietician if you have any doubts). I have Huel for lunch (I love their coffee caramel black edition, I add matcha powder to it) and I eat mostly fish or poultry for dinner (more and more rarely red meat compared to before but it still happens occasionally).

I have nuts as a healthy snack and include a lot of fruits in my diet. Also, I don’t eat gluten anymore and avoid dairy products as my body doesn’t seem to tolerate any of these very well. Gluten-free & dairy-free diets are not always easy to follow but it also benefits the planet, not just me. Bearing in mind I want it to be a lifestyle I can adopt in the long run, not just a temporary measure.

Want to find out more?

If you want to read more on the topic, check out the links below:

What positive change for both your health and the planet have you made so far?

Big Girl x