Nutrition - seven colours of health

Tuesday 08 May 2018

It is recommended that you should try and include 8- 10 portions  of fruits and vegetables a day, something that I have mentioned before. Another important point is to try and include as much colour as possible on our meal plate. This is because the different coloured pigments in the fruits and vegetables give us different plant chemicals called ‘Phytonutrients’. There are thousands of these phytonutrients all with health benefits.

I often challenge people to spend at least 5 extra minutes in the fruit and vegetable isles of the supermarket to remind themselves of all the colours and varieties that are available.

As part of my ongoing reading I came across a chart in the book,’ Zest for Life’ by Conner Middlemann-Whitney. I wanted to share it with you because I think that it explains the nutritional benefits behind the use of colour really well. She called it ‘The Seven Colours of Health’. It may give you some ideas and inspiration. I have looked at the colour, the name of the phytonutrient present, the food source and the benefits.

Red (lycopene)
Tomatoes, pink grapefruit, watermelon, processed tomato products (paste, ketchup, soup, juice)
Health benefits Antioxidant that has been shown to induce enzymes that protect cells against carcinogens, may be especially useful for lung and prostate cancers.


Red/purple. (anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, ellagic acid.)
Red apples, red peppers, blackberries, blueberries, red cabbage, cherries, cranberries, aubergine, red grapes, red pears, pomegranate, plums, strawberries, red wine.
Health benefits; anti-oxidant, anti-angiogenic, may help the binding of carcinogens to DNA, may protect against gastrointestinal cancers.

Orange (alpha and beta carotenoids)

Carrots, mangoes, apricots, canteloupes, pumpkin, acorn squash, winter squash, sweet potato.
Health benefits; Anti-oxidant, may improve communication between cells, may help to prevent lung cancer.


Orange/yellow (minor carotenoids)

Orange juice, oranges, tangerines, peaches, papaya, nectarines.
Health benefits;Antioxidant, may inhibit cholesterol synthesis needed to activate cancer cell growth.

Yellow/green (carotenoids, lutein, zeaxanthin)
Avocados, peppers, collard greens, sweetcorn, cucumber, green beans, honeydew melon, kiwi fruit, mustard greens, peas, green Romaine lettuce, spinach, turnip greens, courgettes.
Health benefits;Help correct DNA imbalances, help to stimulate enzymes that break down carcinogens

Green (sulforaphane, isothiocyanate, indoles)
Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Bok choy, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, Swiss chard, watercress.
Health benefits; Stimulate the release of enzymes that break down cancer causing chemicals in the liver, may inhibit early tumour growth.


White/green (allicin from the onion family, flavonoids, quercetin and kaempferol)
Garlic, onion, leek, celery, pears, endive, chives, artichokes, asparagus, mushrooms.

Health benefits; anti-oxidant, anti-tumour.

Making things manageable
Obviously you do not need to get bogged down with the details or remember all of the phytochemical names. Some of them you may have heard of some may be new to you. However a good tip is to try and eat something from each group each day. This could easily be achieved by starting the day with a berry fruit with your breakfast like blueberries or raspberries. Include a vegetable soup or casserole, or a stir fry, or an imaginative salad during the day. Obviously there will be days when this just does not happen but if you keep the idea in the back of your mind and aim to achieve this as often as possible you will be doing really well and this should hopefully increase your health potential.

Links Zest for Life: The Mediterranean Anti-Cancer Diet Paperback – 1 May 2011
by Conner Middelmann-Whitney

Blog originally written by Caroline October 2013

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