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Eat the Rainbow

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Inspired by the glut of beautiful summer produce available in store and the well-established health benefits of a varied and colourful diet, this month we are encouraging our True Food community to, “Eat the Rainbow.”

Different plant foods contain thousands of natural compounds called phytonutrients, including carotenoids and flavonoids, which have anti-inflammatory benefits. For example:

  • Red fruits, like tomatoes, are rich in lycopene, which is thought to protect against prostate cancer as well as heart and lung disease.
  • Orange and yellow provide beta cryptoxanthin, which may help prevent heart disease.
  • Green brassicas are rich in sulforaphane, isothiocyanate, and indoles, which inhibit the action of cancer-causing compounds.
  • Blue and purple fruits and raisins, have powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins believed to help the heart by reducing risk of blood clots.
  • Finally, the onion family contains allicin, which has anti-tumour properties. While other white and brown plants such as cauliflowers and parsnips, contain antioxidant flavonoids like quercetin and kaempferol.

Moreover, you may be aware of Dr Tim Spector’s research which promotes the concept of eating 30 different plants a week in order to get a full range of nutritional benefits and to maintain good gut health. According to Dr Spector, “the single most important dietary factor we found for better gut health was the number of different plants we eat weekly, with 30 a week being the optimal number.” Any less than that saw a significantly less diverse gut biome. This is key to having a good balance of ‘good’ bacteria in the biome, which in turn helps all facets of your health, including helping to fight disease and infection, as well as properly digesting food and absorbing nutrients and energy.

While 30 plants can seem daunting, you can also include grains, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices, too. Also, you don’t need to eat any specific amount of a plant for it to count. Even small pinches of herbs and spices matter. Furthermore, different colour variants of the same vegetable count separately towards your target. For example, if you had a stir-fry including red, yellow and green bell peppers that would count as three different plants. That’s because different colours mean different polyphenols, which fuel different strains of gut microbes and have different health benefits.

The (really) good news is that coffee and chocolate also count!