Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Thursday, Nov 09, 2006

Metro Plus Chennai

Bring colour onto your plate
Eat at least two servings from each of the four food colour groups every day, advises SHEILA KUMAR

COLOURS OF HEALTH Coloured vegetables and fruits are packed 
with fibre and natural chemicals that help protect your body 
against several diseases

Not many of us can lay claim to being colour conscious when it
comes to the food we eat. However, it is vital that we achieve a
 proper balance of colour in the foodstuffs we ingest. That
balance of colour is actually a balance in diet. Studies have
 conclusively proved that increased consumption
 of `gyro' — green/yellow/red/orange coloured vegetables
and fruit, is vital for a full and proper meal. These coloured
fruits and vegetables are low in fat and packed with fibre and
 natural chemicals that help protect your body against
a host of diseases and ailments.

The predominant colour grouping is red, orange-yellow,
 green and blue-purple. Each group holds a set of beneficial
 phyto-nutrients; the more intense a food's pigment, the greater
 its disease-fighting properties is believed to be. Let's move away
 from colour for a moment. Studies have conclusively proved that
 eating fruits and vegetables helps protect against diseases
like cancer, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, asthma,
 diabetes, cataract, inflammatory diseases and pulmonary troubles.
 The pigments in fruits and vegetables contain
phytochemicals, including antioxidants that act as cancer
inhibitors, cholesterol regulators, anti-inflammatories and
brain-cell protectors.

Fight flab
The statistics are equally conclusive. Those who eat the most
fruits and vegetables are 20 per cent less likely to have heart
disease, according to recent research at Harvard. Eating just one
fruit or vegetable a day cuts the risk of heart disease by 4 per
cent. Eating more fruits and vegetables is more effective when it
comes to fighting off excess weight than eating less
high-fat/high-sugar food. Women who eat at least five daily
servings of fruits and vegetables reduce their risk of
diabetes by 40 per cent compared to women who don't do so.
Now, let's examine the colour chart. Greens include spinach,
broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, coriander, methi leaves,
lettuce, okra, parsley, asparagus, avocado, green peas,
cucumber, celery, guava and pear. They contain liver 
enzymes that help fight cancer, reduce risks of cataract 
and macular degeneration.

The blue-purple chart lists grapes, grape juice, berries, figs, raisins,
 jamuns, purple cabbage, prunes, aubergines and pomegranates.
Most of these can be and should be eaten raw and fresh, though
 cooking doesn't remove too many nutrients.

The red-purple family is considered true fighters. It cuts risks of
heart disease since they contain carotenoid lycopene, as also
helps prevent blood clot formation, heart and lung diseases.
This lot holds red bell peppers, tomatoes, purple cabbage,
 chillies, red grapes, beetroot, apples, strawberries, cranberries,
 cherries, prunes, grapefruit and watermelon.

Orange-yellow foods are a subsection of carrots, sweet potatoes,
squash, avocado, greens, cucumber, beans, corn, kiwi, Brussels
 sprouts, spinach and peas.

Yellow is, of course, a vital element of the dal family. Carrots,
 sweet potatoes, oranges, tangerines, corn, lemons, grapefruit
, apricots, citrus juices, cantaloupe, pumpkins, peaches, 
mangoes, bananas, papaya and pineapple also fall under this 
group. These are rich in cancer fighting alpha carotenes, aid 
the skin against free radical damage and promote repair 
of DNA, help prevent muscular degeneration and cataracts.
The colour white has flavonoids, fights tumours. Garlic, onion, celery,
 leek, shallots and spring onions are part of the white family.

So basically, it's easy: what we are saying is, pay some attention
 to the colour groupings of the food you eat every day. Choose
at least two servings a day from each food colour group. Cooking
 tomatoes and carrots activates antioxidants; eat the skins, the
 site of the most antioxidants, whenever possible. Ripe fruits
 and vegetables contain the most antioxidants.

Remember to load your plate with the brightest, deepest colours
. Juices are part of the grouping, so go ahead and guzzle;
 orange juice, in particular, is linked to lower disease risk.

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