Diet 5 Colors of Fruits and Vegetables

Diet 5 Colors of Fruits and Vegetables

Color diet

Mediterranean diet: rich in colors and natural foods

For years, nutritionists have valued the ” Mediterranean diet ” because it is based on the intake of  natural, healthy and minimally processed foods  .

From the most recent acquisitions in the field of  human nutrition  , it has been confirmed that fruit and  vegetables contain not only essential nutrients  ( vitamins , minerals and to a small extent  essential fatty acids ), but also protective factors linked to their colour.

Why are fruits and vegetables good for health?

We all know that eating lots of fruits and vegetables is good for your health, but have we wondered why?

The health properties are due to the content of water, vitamins,  mineral salts ,  sugars ,  fibers and compounds called phytoalexins  (in English  phytochemicals ). These substances give vegetables and fruit their color and are important both for the plants themselves and for the human body:

  • For plants, thanks to the protective action against microorganisms and parasites ;
  • For the human organism thanks to the protective action against the apparatuses and systems.

Each fruit and vegetable has a certain characteristic composition and for this reason it is advisable to eat as many varieties as possible.

In this way the body can absorb the right mix of essential substances to satisfy all its needs.

Importance of colors in the diet of fruit and vegetables

We therefore need to eat different types of fruit and vegetables every day, in order to ingest the correct amount of fiber and phytochemicals.

That’s when colors take over the diet!

In fact, recent studies have shown that it is good to consume five fruit and vegetables with different colors every day: white, green, red, yellow/orange, purple/blue.

One serving equals:

  1. A side dish of raw or cooked vegetables (50-250 g);
  2. A medium-sized fruit (100-200 g) to be used as a snack , at the end of a meal or at breakfast ;
  3. A  smoothie of fruit and/or vegetables (150-250 ml) to be consumed as a drink.

By managing to adopt these habits and maintaining an active (non-sedentary) lifestyle, it has been shown that  the risk of cancer is reduced by 1/3 and a certain general physical well-being is maintained.

Following these tips is important at all stages of life, so it’s recommended from the first years of age.

Now let’s see, component by component, the beneficial properties of fruit and vegetables.

Properties of the Color Diet

What are the beneficial nutritional characteristics of the color diet?

The chemical properties of the color diet, which outline a beneficial and almost therapeutic effect, are:

  • Richness of phytochemicals or phytoalexins;
  • Wealth of vitamins;
  • Rich in beneficial minerals and low  sodium intake ;
  • Rich in fiber;
  • Wealth of water.

Let’s analyze them one at a time.

Wealth of Phytochemicals

Importance of phytochemicals or phytoalexins

Phytochemicals or phytoalexins give fruits and vegetables their characteristic colour.

Polyphenols  ,  anthocyanins ,  carotenoids  and chlorophylls are the main phytochemicals of fruit and vegetables, and have the function of protecting the body by reducing the risk of :

  • Oxidative stress ;
  • Tumors ;
  • Total hypercholesterolaemia and  LDL ;
  • Primary arterial hypertension ;
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus ;
  • Atherosclerosis ;
  • Thrombosis ;
  • Cardio – and cerebrovascular events .

Wealth of Vitamins

Vitamins of fruit and vegetables: what are they and what are they for?

Vitamins are small but complex molecules, important for all cellular and consequently bodily functions.

For example,  vitamin A  ensures the proper functioning of vision, vitamin C supports the  immune system  and is the basis of collagen production ; vitamin  D  ensures the formation of  bone tissue ; certain vitamins of the B complex act as  enzymes  and coenzymes for  energy metabolism  (they help process carbohydrates,  proteins , fats) and are necessary for cell differentiation; vitamin E protects essential fats from free radials; vitamin  K has the so-called antihemorrhagic function etc.

Certain vitamins have  remarkable antioxidant power  and, in addition to slowing down aging , they protect (such as phytoalexins) from the onset of tumors and metabolic pathologies.

Fruits and vegetables are mainly rich in:

  • Antioxidant vitamins :
    • Carotenoids (pro vitamins A such as  beta carotene  and  lycopene ): contained above all in orange fruits and vegetables ( peppers ,  chili peppers ,  tomatoes ,  carrots ,  strawberries ,  cherries ,  melons ,  peaches ,  apricots  , etc.)
    • Ascorbic acid  (vitamin C): contained above all in acidic fruit ( lemon , orange,  grapefruit , strawberries, cherries, apples, etc.) and in certain vegetables ( cauliflower ,  parsley , chilli pepper,  lettuce ,  radicchio  , etc.)
    • Tocopherols ( vitamin E ), especially alpha tocopherol: it is present almost everywhere even if in small quantities. Avocado ,  olives ,  spinach ,  turnip greens  and especially  oilseeds  or  extracted oils  are very rich in it .
  • Vitamin K : Actually, it’s not that abundant, but plants are still the main dietary source.
  • Folates: necessary for the synthesis of  nucleic acids  (very important for the  development of the fetus ), they abound in vegetables rich in  chlorophyll  (such as spinach, lettuce, radicchio, chicory,  etc.  ) and in some fruits (such as  apples  and  oranges ) .


Lots of potassium, magnesium and little sodium

The fruit and vegetable diet is particularly suitable for people suffering from metabolic and/or  cardiovascular diseases .

This is because fruits and vegetables are rich in  potassium ,  magnesium  and at the same time contain little sodium (the excess of which is implicated in the etiology  of  high sodium sensitive blood pressure ).

Potassium promotes urinary excretion of sodium and together with magnesium helps maintain an   alkaline PRAL .

Wealth of Fiber

The fruit and vegetable diet increases fiber

Fruits and vegetables contain a high percentage of fibres, of which a good part is of the soluble-viscous type.

Fiber functions:

  • They fight  constipation and promote bowel habit  regularity ;
  • They are not digested by the body, but favor the elimination of harmful substances;
  • They modulate nutritional absorption, helping to lower the level of  cholesterol in the blood  and decreasing the glycemic index ;
  • They provide a high sense of satiety, limiting food consumption  , a useful aspect in slimming diets ;
  • They exert a  prebiotic effect  and maintain the trophism of the  intestinal bacterial flora .

Wealth of water

Role and importance of water content

70% of our body is made up of water which, not only for this reason, is considered an essential nutrient. In fact, water is the matrix in which all the processes that allow cells to reproduce and preserve themselves take place.

It is also for this reason that doctors and nutritionists recommend drinking at least one liter of water a day. This indication does not correspond to our real need, which is at least double (about 2 liters for an average adult). Therefore, in addition to the liter of drinking water, the remaining 50% of the water requirement is covered by food and above all by: fruit, vegetables and  milk ; secondly (but not too much) come cooked  meat ,  fish  and  cereals – legumes .

This is why athletes, who have a greater need for water to compensate for  sweating , are generally advised against eating preserved foods ( cheeses , seasoned meats, etc.).

Water is also essential, in the right quantities (one or two glasses per meal, depending on the composition), to ensure correct  digestion .

Seasonality of Fruits and Vegetables

Importance of seasonality for fruit and vegetables

Respecting the seasonality of fruit and vegetables is necessary to be sure of their nutritional richness. In fact, products stored for a long time in cold rooms (greater exposure to oxidative stress ), or obtained from intensive agriculture, have a lower than normal chemical value.

Hence the recommendation to prefer  seasonal fruit and vegetables , preferably local or with a “short supply chain”.

Even badly preserved seasonal fruit undergoes exposure to  free radicals , oxygen and light, losing most of the nutrients sensitive to them.

Raw or cooked vegetables

Both must be present in the diet, but the nutritional richness of  thermolabile molecules is guaranteed above all in raw products.

Among the thermolabile molecules, certain vitamins stand out above all, which are notoriously degraded by heat (especially C and  folates ).

Also, cooking fruits and vegetables by poaching (or boiling) dilutes the minerals in the surrounding liquid.

Cooked fruit and vegetables are useful for increasing the portions and therefore the intake of fibers which, among other things, also become more soluble –  viscous . In this way they make themselves more useful in the modulation of the intestine  and as prebiotics.



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