**Disclaimer: the content below is for information only. Please make sure to contact your general practitioner if you are worried about your health or are planning to change your diet.**
We all know the importance of eating a wide range of fruits and vegetables, but did you know that the different colours of our vegetables and fruits have different benefits to your health?
This colour lets you know that your fruit or vegetable is rich in lycopene and anthocyanins.
Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that can help protect against degenerative diseases (cardiovascular disease, oxidative stress and development of cancer.) It does this by neutralizing free radicals in the body.
Where to find lycopene: tomatoes, watermelon and apricots.
(In the case of tomatoes, lycopene is released more efficiently when the tomatoes are cooked.)
Anthocyanins are also antioxidants known to have a beneficial impact on obesity control, diabetes, cardiovascular disease as well as brain and eye function. They have also been shown to be anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic and anti-microbial.
Where to find anthocyanins: berries (raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and blueberries), blackcurrants and cherries as well as red cabbage and acai berries.
Carotenoids are what make your fruit and veg yellow or orange.
Examples of carotenoids are beta-carotene, lutein and lycopene. They are thought to protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Where to find carotenoids: oranges, carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and butternut squash.
The green colour in vegetables comes from chlorophyll.
Green vegetables contain fibre, minerals, B vitamins, iron, vitamin C, E and K. They also contain lutein and glucosinolates.
Lutein is known to lower the risks of eye degeneration, cardiovascular disease and skin ageing.
Where to find lutein: green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, etc.), green beans, peas and broccoli.
Glucosinolates are thought to lower the risk of cancer.
Where to find glucosinolates: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage
Blue/purple fruits and vegs contain antioxidants, including anthocyanins and reversatrol.
Reversatrol has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. It may reverse cancer development, protect against cardiovascular disease and reduce aging.
Where to find reversatrol: aubergine, beetroot, blueberries, blackberries, plums, raisins, purple grape (and red wine!)
Certain white vegetables contain allicin, which is known for its anti-oxidant and anti-cancer properties. It also boosts immunity and cardiovascular health
Where to find allicin: garlic, onion, leek and shallot.
Recipe to share: Ratatouille
Not this one!
Ratatouille is a traditional French vegetable stew, originating from the Provence region of France.
(Cook’s note: Even though I cook my ratatouille in the slow cooker, I think it is worth sautéing the onion and garlic in a little olive oil first before adding them to the slow cooker. Also, it is not traditional to add potatoes to a ratatouille, but you can do so. I find it very useful to “bulk out” the ratatouille and feed a hungry 10-year-old-in-the-middle-of-a-growth-spurt boy!)
1 onion, diced
1 garlic clove, chopped finely (or more, according to taste)
1 courgette (zucchini), diced
1 aubergine, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
2 potatoes, diced
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
1 cup (250ml) vegetable stock
1 tsp Herbes de Provence
Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion for 4-5 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes, making sure the garlic doesn’t burn (it will taste bitter if it does.)
Once the onion and garlic are cooked, add them to the slow cooker with the rest of the ingredients. Place the lid on and cook for 4 to 6 hours. Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!
(Cook’s note #2: To make your Ratatouille leftovers go further, blend what you have left with an immersion blender (adding a little veg stock to thin out, if needed) and use as a sauce to mix with whole-wheat pasta. This is a great way to sneak vegetables past children who do not want to eat anything remotely colourful!)