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When it comes to veggies, go for a riot of colours

By Faith Kariuki Biongo | June 2nd 2019

Why choose white cabbage over purple cabbage? Does the yellow, green and red pepper have similar nutrients? What is the difference between orange sweet potatoes and white sweet potatoes? Does the colour of your vegetables mean way more than just making the plate look appealing? Colour in fruits and vegetables isn’t just colour. It also shows the difference in health and nutrition benefits. To maximise on these health benefits, include in your meals a variety of whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits with different colours. Brightly and deep coloured or rainbow coloured fruits and vegetables are often the best sources of phytonutrients.

Red fights for you

When free radicals exceed the antioxidant levels in your body, the cells suffer from oxidative stress. This makes you vulnerable to cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Food sources of phytonutrients known as lycopene, which helps in preventing cell damage include: Red fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, red capsicum, radish, watermelon and strawberries.

Orange/yellow protects you from certain cancers and eye disease

Orange or yellow vegetables and fruits like carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, mangoes and pawpaw derive their colour from phytonutrients known as carotenoids especially beta-carotene which the body converts into Vitamin A which is an essential nutrient which helps maintain eyes, skin and bone health. In addition, yellow and orange vegetables are a good source of potassium and vitamin C.

Purple and blue gives you rich nutrition

Purple and blue vegetables and fruits like beetroot, red cabbage, eggplant, blueberries and purple grapes owe their characteristic colour to anthocyanin. Anthocyanin, like lycopene has powerful antioxidant properties that protect cell damage by free radicals reducing risk of chronic conditions like cancer and heart diseases. Purple fruits and vegetables are also a good source of manganese, potassium and B and C vitamins.  

White and brown are anti-viral

White and brown vegetables like cauliflower, mushroom, turnip, pears and peaches get their colour from a range of phytonutrients like beta-glucans, allicin, glucosinolates and polyphenols which have antibacterial, anti-viral and antioxidant properties. White vegetables are often a good source of potassium and magnesium.

Green is a blood builder and immune booster

Green vegetables like traditional vegetables, spinach, broccoli and kales get their colour from chlorophyll. However, they also contain a wide range of phytonutrients like lutein, carotenoids and saponins. Most green vegetables are rich in potassium, iron and A and C vitamins.


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