Choose Foods for Children by Colour

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mother-and-babyIn general, the more colourful the food, the more nutritious it is. For example, spinach rates more highly than lettuce; the deep orange of a sweet potato contains more nutrients than an ordinary potato, and pink grapefruit is preferable to an ordinary grapefruit. It is important to ensure that you include a good variety of colours to make sure you are getting a good balance in your and your children's diet.

It is easy to make sure children get all the SuperFoods they need, simply use the lists of fruit and vegetable give on the previous page to plan colourful meals. Fire-engine red, sunshine yellow, emerald green, rich purples - these bright fruit and vegetable colours are not just feasts for our eyes, but treasure-troves of healthy nutrients. For locked inside tomatoes, spinach, oranges and blueberries are whole sets of plant nutrients that can reduce our risk of heart disease and cancer. In general, the more colourful the food, the more nutritious it is. For example, spinach rates more highly than lettuce; the deep orange of a sweet potato contains more nutrients than an ordinary potato, and pink grapefruit is preferable to an ordinary grapefruit. It is important to ensure that you include a good variety of colours to make sure you are getting a good balance in your diet.

Green

Green foods are rich in the antioxidant vitamins A, C and E, which can protect our bodies' cells and boost our chance of living a longer, healthier life. Green leafy vegetables are also rich in iron. The green colour comes from chlorophyll, which is a plant's way of converting sunlight to energy. Studies have shown that eating broccoli regularly reduces the risk of cancer. It is also a good source of glucosinolates, which have strong anti-cancer effects by stimulating our bodies' natural defences.

Red

Lycopene is a natural pigment that gives fruits like tomatoes, red grapefruits and watermelons their red colour and is one of the most powerful cancer-fighting carotenoids. It is particularly valuable in helping to protect us from certain cancers such as prostate and cervical cancer. Carotenoids are also found in carrots, dark green vegetables, red peppers, sweet potatoes, peaches and apricots (fresh and dried), mangoes, cantaloupe melons and papayas.

Other studies have revealed that men who had high levels of lycopene in their fat stores were half as likely to have a heart attack. Most of the lycopene in the diet comes from tomatoes because of the quantity of tomatoes and tomato products we eat. However, other good sources are watermelon, guava and pink grapefruit. Lycopene is not produced by the body and needs to be derived from our diet.

Orange and yellow

Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables are high in betacarotene, the plant form of vitamin A. It is true that vitamin A improves night vision and during the Second World War it was rumoured that fighter pilots were fed a diet of carrots so they could see better in the dark. Betacarotene also protects against cancer and boosts the immune system against colds and flu. Citrus fruits are good sources of vitamin C, which is important for growth, healthy skin, healing wounds and improving the absorption of iron.

Dark blue or purple

There is lots of vitamin C and antixodiants such as bioflavonoids and ellagic acids in blue and purple foods, which help to boost immunities against cancer. Grapes in particular contain ellagic acid. The skins of grapes also contain a substance that can lower cholesterol and prevent fats in the bloodstream from sticking together. As a result, a glass of red wine is now thought to help lower cholesterol levels.

Beetroot is especially rich in iron and magnesium. Also the pigment anthocyanin (from the Greek for 'dark blue flower') has powerful anti-cancer properties. Blueberries have one of the highest antioxidant levels of any fruit because of the high level of anthocyanins in the skin.

White

Just because you can't see it doesn't mean it isn't there. Garlic, onions and leeks contain organosulphides, which seem to stimulate the immune system and fight cancers. Organosulphides are also antioxidants. Garlic is rich in allicin, which is an antibiotic and it is antiviral.

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