Fruits and vegetables are the ideal foods to add colour to your meals and improve your health. Marie Marquis, Professor of Nutrition in the Department of Medicine at the Université de Montréal, shares her tips for eating an abundance of colorful and diversified fruits and vegetables.
Why should you eat a more colorful and varied diet?
Did you happen to spot vibrantly coloured fruits and vegetables while walking the aisles of a market? You should pick them up! Their bright colours are an indication of the tons of vitamins and minerals they contain.
Fruits and vegetables: health allies for seniors
“The more varied our diet is, the better our chances of getting the maximum amount of nutrients from our foods are,” explains Marie Marquis. “By increasing our fruits and vegetable consumption, we prevent cardiovascular diseases and lower the risks of obesity.” Since fruits and veggies are full of fibre, they also provide benefits for the digestive tract and a great feeling of satiety.
“Don’t forget to put them in plain sight on your countertop to encourage you to eat more and avoid wasting them. Fruits and vegetables make for quick and delicious snacks,” she reminds us.
Put colours onto you plate and boost your appetite
Eating colourful foods is also a great way to boost your appetite. As we get older, we tend to be less hungry. However, eating a nice colourful plate with your eyes first can enhance your meal experience. Did you know that, for green veggies, the darker the better? “Iceberg lettuce, for instance, is the palest of lettuces and is less nutritiously interesting than spinach,” adds Mrs. Marquis.
Adding colourful vegetables to their daily food intake has another perk for seniors: it balances out their sweet cravings, which intensify with age. Eating too much fast-releasing sugars (bread, cake, cookies, jelly, honey, and obviously sugar) increases the risk of developing chronic diseases like diabetes. The fibres in fruits and vegetables provide enough satiety to avoid giving in to your sweet tooth every time!
How do you promote a varied diet?
Try new foods
To enjoy all the long-term benefits of a varied diet, it can be interesting to try new foods. “My tip is to set a goal to add a new variety of fruits and vegetables to your groceries each week,” says Marie Marquis. “We tend to unconsciously gravitate towards the same foods, week after week. The trick is to find a recipe centered around the new food you have picked up and to cook it in different ways for different recipes,” she mentions. Whether it be grated, sliced, grilled, or pureed, try different techniques to get to know and love the new foods in your fridge.
Eat what is in season
In Quebec, food diversity comes with seasonality. By following what is in season, you can create a varied diet. Greenhouse agriculture now provides us with a nice variety of fruits and vegetables all year long that we did not have access to before.
Visit public markets or go to pick-your-own farms. That way, you will have access to local and in-season produce at all times. In addition, all your senses will be heightened. The smell of aromatic herbs like parsley, basil, or chives promotes culinary creativity. Imagine salads made with grated vegetables and fruits, mix up the flavours and textures. Have you thought of freezing your favourite fruits and veggies? The freezing process preserves vitamins and minerals, so don’t fret! Freeze compotes, soups, and in-season berries; you will have them on hand all year long!
The benefits of fruits and vegetables according to their colour
To each colour its health benefits! Did you know that eating a variety of colourful veggies is essential for good gut health? By ingesting the most micronutrients possible, you establish a good equilibrium for your microbiota (or gut microbiota). The microbiota consists of useful, as well as harmful bacteria. The variety of fruits and vegetables you eat allows you to increase the number of good bacteria in your gut. These good bacteria play an important role in digestion and immunity.
Red: lycopene, anthocyanins
Lycopene, good for cardiovascular health, is a powerful antioxidant that could have protective effects against prostate cancer.
- Tomato, beetroot, bell pepper, watermelon…
Yellow and orange: carotenoids
These pigments have protective effects on vision, immunity, and skin health. They help with healing and slow down cellular aging.
- Lemon, grapefruit, carrot, apricot, mango, sweet potato, pineapple…
Green: chlorophyll, lutein
Lutein could reduce risks of developing cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. It helps filter out blue light. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
- Lettuce, parsley, spinach, arugula, zucchini, cucumber, avocado, kiwi…
They are associated with the prevention of aging, cardiovascular diseases, and certain types of cancers. Anti-inflammatory, good for the heart.
- Eggplant, blueberry, blackberry, red cabbage, pomegranate…
Eating colourful fruits and vegetables is undeniably good for your health. They help:
- Boost the appetite
- Improve gut health
- Guarantee better immunity
- Prevent cardiovascular diseases
Each colour has its benefits. Don’t hesitate to mix them up and create new recipes. Summer is near and new colours are coming soon; have fun while taking care of your health!
Enjoyed this article? Do not hesitate to share it with your loved ones thanks to the simplified sharing buttons located on the left or at the bottom of your screen. Thank you!
Sources (mostly in French):