Eating by colour

Sounds a bit like painting by numbers, doesn’t it?

A healthy diet needs to contain adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals, but you might need to make a study of nutrition in order to work out where to find all these good things.

It is especially true for amateur athletes, such as runners, that a healthy diet is one of the essential elements supporting a healthy immune system.  When the immune system is less than 100% we are prone to infections.

A key component of a healthy diet is a visit to the ‘fruit and vegetable’ section of your supermarket.  While government advice is 5 portions a day, an active sports player or exerciser should be looking at 8 portions a day.  That might sound a lot but if it is spread over 3 meals and a couple of snacks, well, that’s only one or two portions each time!

Knowing which fruits and vegetables to choose is the challenge?  The secret is to go for as many different colours as you can.  It really is a bit like painting by numbers but this simple approach helps to ensure that you have a balance of vitamins, minerals and good plant chemicals such as antioxidants.

FfT 1211 Balanced diet

4 thoughts on “Eating by colour

  1. Sarah

    Hi Mary, I like the way you have highlighted the need for micro nutrients as we often forget them. I wonder what you think about some of the ideas around at the moment about ensuring that a good proportion of the five-a-day are actually vegetables rather than fruit? I think this is partly about trying to ensure sugar consumption is moderate, and also about the actual micro nutrients in vegetables which we may not get if all our five-a-day are fruit?

    1. Mary Post author

      Hi Sarah
      You’re right about trying to manage the amount of sugar; with respect to total carb / calorie intake and, unfortunately, because fruit sugars are not so good for the teeth. Vegetables contain a wonderful range of micronutrients, some of which are not found in fruits, and so the ideal is definitely >50% of the 5 a day should be veg’s.

  2. Laurie

    But who wants to eat Broccoli? Yuk! 🙂
    I can eat apples and tomatoes and carrots and bananas until they’re coming out of my ears but green vegetables need cooking and who has the time to do that?


    1. Mary Post author

      Hi Laurie
      It’s good to hear that you’re eating plenty of fruit and sweet root vegetables – you’ll be getting plenty of vitamin A and vitamin C, as well as lycopene (a potent antioxidant) and potassium.

      However, leafy green vegetables are packed full of minerals, especially iron, calcium, zinc and magnesium, as well as being a good source of folate (one of the B vitamins). Why do we need these minerals?

      Iron is an essential component of haemoglobin, which is the oxygen carrying molecule in the blood.
      Calcium is the major component of our skeleton. A good supply in the diet is essential to maintain bone health in adults and, of course, to support growth in children.
      Zinc plays an essential role in literally dozens of biochemical reactions within the body, although it is better known as a supporter of the immune system.
      Magnesium is also involved in many biochemical reactions, not least within energy metabolism and muscle contraction processes.

      Broccoli is a good example of a green vegetable, but there are others such as spinach, cabbage, spring greens and kale. All of these are great sources of minerals and most are in season right now. Generally, yes, we prefer to cook these vegetables, to make them more palatable and easier to digest. Baby spinach, however, makes a great salad, along with some of your favourite tomatoes and carrots and perhaps some onion too.

      When it comes to cooking green veg, it doesn’t have to take a long time at all. Just a few minutes in a microwave will cook them nicely. Alternatively, try a stir fry. Just add a teaspoonful of oil to a non stick pan or wok and you can cook chopped greens in no time at all. If preparation time is an issue, supermarkets are selling prepared spring greens and cabbage ready to microwave in the bag, or stir fry veggies chopped and ready to go in the wok.

      Why not give them a try?


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