Eating by Colour


colours_cSuperFoods are foods that have roles other than supplying the basic components of our diet - carbohydrate, protein and fat. These roles vary from boosting energy and brain power to prevention of illness and even repair of damage. Research shows that one-third of cancer cases are related to what we eat and the evidence is that fibre and fresh fruit and vegetables are in surprisingly short supply in the Western diet. Researchers estimate that diets filled with fruits and vegetables instead of fats, along with exercise, could reduce cancer incidence by 30 to 40 per cent.

So what exactly is it that makes SuperFoods so great? The answer is the chemical structures we know as vitamins, minerals and trace elements, also known collectively as phytonutrients, one of nature's many miracles. Many fruits and vegetables are packed full of these powerful natural chemicals, which have very important functions in healing and preventing illness and diseases, such as cancer and heart disease.

The incidence of cancer is increasing tremendously in Western society, as well as the incidence of obesity among children. Fruit and vegetable consumption among schoolchildren is woefully low. The latest research shows that one in five young people aged four to eighteen eat no fruit or vegetables and less than half have the recommended five portions a day. As a result, the government is introducing free fruit for school children. Eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables per day is vital to good health and we should be incorporating fruit and vegetables into our children's diet from a very young age so they become a completely normal part of life.

Another reason for the health-giving benefits of fruit and vegetables is the presence of antioxidants. These are a group of substances that include vitamins C and E. betacarotene (the orange colour found in plants), which the body converts into vitamin A, and the minerals iron, selenium, zinc and copper. Antioxidants play a key role in protecting our bodies from the damage that can cause serious illness, particularly heart disease and cancers. Antioxidants effectively disarm certain harmful molecules known as free radicals, which can cause damage and disease. Many fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants and the key to making sure you are getting a good supply of antioxidants is to choose a good variety of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables to eat each day. The time to start stocking up with these protective nutrients is in childhood - it can never be too early.

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