We know we need to eat our greens, but health experts agree it’s just as important to get reds, oranges, yellows, blues and purples into our daily diets too. It’s no secret that fruit and vegetables are incredibly nutritious. With very few exceptions, they punch well above their weight in nutrient and fibre counts and are generally fat-free and low in calories. What might be more insider knowledge is that the different colour groups of fruit and vegetables benefit our bodies in different ways. A green vegetable can offer a bundle of goodness that is completely different from that of a red one.
Quick guide: colour me healthy
Proteins and starchy complex carbs are often white, beige or brown; aiming for at least three other colours at every meal is an easy way of ensuring you are getting a good range of vitamins and minerals.
Great examples: Cherries, cranberries, red cabbage, beetroot, tomatoes and red peppers.
Good for: Red fruit and vegetables boost heart and circulatory health, improve memory and support urinary tract health. Research indicates they can also reduce the risk of several types of cancer.
Eat more: Stir tomatoes into soups, stews and any pasta sauce you’re making. Keep some cooked beetroot and thinly sliced red cabbage handy to add to salads and stir-fries.
Blue and purple
Great examples: Blueberries, blackberries, plums, figs and aubergines
Good for: Along with the bright blue hue comes a wealth of anti-ageing and circulation-boosting goodness. Studies have also linked these fruit and vegetables to sturdy bones and a decrease in strokes and heart disease.
Eat more: Sprinkle berries over your yoghurt and morning cereal. Grilled aubergine makes a great addition to pasta and pizza, as well as being a delicious meat substitute.
Great examples: Kiwi fruit, green grapes, avocados, green beans, broccoli and dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale and rocket.
Good for: Popeye (and your mum!), were right, these powerhouses will make you strong. The benefits of eating plenty of green fruit and vegetables include supported and strengthened muscles, bones and teeth. Leafy greens are also an excellent source of folate, a B vitamin that helps reduce the risk of birth defects, so pregnant women should make sure they’re getting at least a portion of greenery a day.
Eat more: Kale chips are a great healthy snack or, if you fancy something sweet, try blending up an avocado with some honey and cocoa for an amazingly rich chocolate mousse. Keep a bunch of green grapes on your desk for a tasty alternative to the 3pm biscuit fix.
Orange and yellow
Great examples: Oranges, pineapples, star fruit, peaches, apricots, papayas, carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins and yellow squash.
Good for: Taking a gold star for their high quotient of vitamins C and A, these fruit and vegetables are closely associated with healthy eyes, glowing skin, lowered blood pressure and increased immunity.
Eat more: Swap your regular potatoes with healthier sweet potatoes. Just like courgettes, squash and pumpkin make delicious pasta replacements. Use a vegetable peeler (or a specially designed spiralizer) to create long noodle shapes, which you can blanch and then top with your favourite pasta sauce.