What is the easiest way to make a healthy salad? The answer is – make it colourful.
Sounds silly, right? But this statement has a strong scientific backup. The vast range of bright colours that give fruits and vegetables their visual appeal come from three main types of pigment: carotenoids, which provide orange and yellow colours to vegetables and fruits; flavonoids, which give blue, red and cream colours; and chlorophyll, which makes greens green. These different colours of fruits and vegetables indicate the different nutrients they contain. So a salad made of different coloured vegetables and fruits will be enriched with different nutrients. In short, consuming a colourful salad ensures you get enough of the different nutrients you need for good health.
Red, Blue and Purple
Red, blue and purple fruits and vegetables usually contain anthocyanins, and red fruits and vegetables often contain lycopene as well. Anthocyanins have antioxidant properties that help limit damage caused to your cells by free radicals. Lycopene may help lower your risk of heart disease. These brightly coloured fruits and vegetables often also contain essential vitamins and minerals such as potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C and folate. Compounds in these fruits and vegetables also help keep your vision and immune system healthy and limit your risk for urinary tract infections.
White fruits and vegetables may look unattractive on a store shelf. But they are rich in nutrients. They get their colour from polyphenol compounds with antioxidant properties called anthoxanthins. Some white foods, like garlic, contain allicin, which may help lower your risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease. These foods may also be good sources of potassium, vitamin C, folate, niacin and riboflavin.
Orange and Yellow
The orange and yellow coloured fruits and vegetables get their colour from carotenoids. Carotenoids may help improve your immune function and lower your risk for heart disease, and vision problems. Beta-carotene is a carotenoid that your body uses to create vitamin A. Folate, potassium, and vitamin C are also often found in orange and yellow fruits and vegetables.
Similar to the leaves, Chlorophyll gives green fruits and vegetables their colour. Some of these fruits and vegetables also contain indoles, which helps prevent problems with your vision. Other common nutrients in many of these fruits and vegetables include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K and folate.
So next time when you buy or make a salad, ensure that it is colourful. Because now you know the ground rule – Make it colourful to make it healthy. Have a healthy diet.