Have you thought about the colour on your plate while eating food? Have you ever paid attention to it? Probably not. Nowadays we all eat a lot of fast food like burgers, pizzas, chaat, fried stuff etc. And mostly these are eaten after shopping or while watching TV when we hardly pay attention to what we eat. But think about it. The predominant colour of all these kinds of foods is brown or beige. Where has the colour vanished from our plates?
And why am I going on and on about the colour on our plates? Because eating foods with an array of colours has many health benefits. Plant foods are loaded with vitamins and minerals, we know that. But they are also rich in chemicals called phytochemicals. Each colour pigment is the result of different phytochemical and thus has different health benefits. Studies have proven that phytochemicals help in reducing the risk of many diseases and help in reducing the oxidative damage to our cells.
So starting today we will see the benefits of different colours on our plates. Today’s colour is RED.
Watermelon, tomatoes, strawberries, cherries, plums, red bell peppers are a few examples of red coloured fruits and vegetables. The important phytochemicals present in these are Anthocyanins and Lycopene. These have the following benefits:
- Improved memory function
- Better heart health
- Urinary tract health
- Reduced risk of some cancers
So by now we know that phytochemicals are extremely important. Let us see the health benefits of a few red coloured fruits and vegetables.
Who can resist a ripe, juicy strawberry? These yummy bright red berries are full of health benefits. They are bursting with nutrients and should definitely be consumed when in season. Strawberries are rich in:
- Anthocyanin, a phytochemical, which gives strawberries the bright red colour.
- Vitamin C, an excellent antioxidant.
- Folic acid which is extremely essential during pregnancy. It prevents birth defects in newborn babies.
- Potassium, which helps in regulating high blood pressure.
- Quercetin, a phytochemical, which helps in preventing atherosclerosis and thus helps in maintaining heart health. Quercetin also helps in protecting our heart against the damage caused by LDL (Low Density Lypoprotein or bad cholesterol).
- Flavonoids like anthocyanin, quercetin and kaempherol which are anti carcinogenic and excellent anti oxidants.
- Fibre, helps in regulating blood sugar by slowing down digestion.
- Strawberries are a low GI food thus stabilising blood sugar levels.
Red Bell Peppers
Red bell peppers add a vibrant colour to our salads. They also add a zing to the flavour of the salads due to their fruity taste. But these bright red vegetables are a powerhouse of nutrients. Red peppers are rich in:
- Lycopene which gives it the bright red colour.
- Vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant. Red peppers are a phenomenal source of vitamin A which helps with eye health, skin an teeth.
- Vitamin C, another antioxidant. Red peppers are one of the richest sources of vitamin C. Vitamin Cis also responsible for increased immunity. Among all the bell peppers, red ones have the maximum vitamin C content.
- Flavonoids like luteolin, quercetin and hesperidin which are anti carcinogenic.
- Vitamin B6 and folate which help in preventing anaemia.
- Capsicain, which helps in relieving pain.
- Red peppers are very low in calories. A cup of red peppers has only 45 calories approximately, but provides you with lots of vitamin A, C and fibre.
- Due to their high vitamin C content, it is advisable not to cook them for long periods. Vitamin C is heat sensitive and is lost due to over cooking.
Tomatoes too get their red colour due to lycopene. Tomatoes are loaded with health benefits and can be consumed in many different ways. They are rich in many vital nutrients and phytochemicals.
- Lycopene, which gives it the bright red colour is a powerful phytochemical. Many studies have linked lycopene to the prevention of cancer especially prostate cancer.
- Lycopene is also linked to reduction in cardiovascular diseases.
- Antioxidants like lutein, beta carotene and lycopene protect our eyes against age related macular degeneration.
- Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. It protects our skin from premature ageing and is very important in the synthesis of connective tissue, skin, hair and nails.
- Vitamin A is also a powerful antioxidant.
- Potassium helps in maintaining a healthy blood pressure.
- 100 gm of tomatoes provide 4% of daily requirement of fibre. Fibre is extremely important in managing blood sugar levels. Good intake of fibre prevents constipation and keeps the digestive tract healthy.
- Good source of vitamin B6, niacin, zinc, folate, vitamin K, choline and pantothenic acid.
*Cooking tomatoes enhances the lycopene content that can be absorbed by the body. So cook the tomatoes and enjoy!
This is a delicious, juicy fruit!. The sight of watermelon reminds us of scorching sunny days and then the delicious relief of biting into a watermelon….wow…drool…… So basically we know that it is a hydrating fruit but not many know that it is loaded with nutrients. Few of its nutrients are:
- Lycopene, by now you know that this is responsible for the colour. Lycopene in watermelon helps lower the risk of heart diseases.
- Lycopene also makes watermelon an anti inflammatory fruit.
- Cetrulline, an amino acid which converts into Arginine. Arginine can help improve blood flow and may help reduce the accumulation of excess fat. Thus it helps in protecting heart health.
- Vitamin A, an excellent antioxidant. 100 gm of watermelon fulfils 11% of your daily requirement of vitamin A.
- Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant. It improves immunity and fastens wound healing.
- Choline, a micronutrient which assists in fat absorption and is anti inflammatory.
- Watermelons have an alkaline effect on our bodies. Thus they prevent acidity and the illnesses caused due to acidity.
- Watermelon is a very low calorie fruit.
- Watermelon is 92% water and hence very hydrating.
So these are the top 4 widely eaten RED fruits and vegetables. There are others like cherries, red grapes, cranberries, pomegranates etc. We can see that due to the same colour, these fruits and vegetables have similar nutrients in them. So this again proves that each colour has its own specific benefits. Therefore we must try and include these bright red fruits and vegetables in our daily diet and reap the benefits.
Stay healthy, Stay happy!! 🙂
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