BANT (The British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy) have released some generalized food advice that is far more up to date than the antiquated government Eatwell Plate.
This chart makes the recommendation to eat vegetables and a small amount of fruit from each of the color groups – not quite corresponding to a rainbow.
The pigments that give vegetables and fruit their colors are the naturally occurring antioxidants that help keep us healthy.
Colorful Veggies And Fruits: Packed With Antioxidants
Toxins from the environment, diet and from our own internally generated toxins result in free radicals accumulating in our tissues.
A free radical is a molecule, atom or ion that is highly reactive due to a ‘lonely’ extra electron. The electron has a negative charge and the free radical is just dying to grab tight hold of a positive charge and dump its negative charge onto another molecule in your tissue.
Because it is so desperate it reacts violently and a cascade of violence begins as the negatively charged electron is passed from one molecule to the next, damaging your tissues in a cascade reaction as it does so.
This is where antioxidants come to the rescue. They are capable of negating the negative charge by accepting the unwanted electron without getting damaged themselves, much like a saint, Buddha or an Aikido master might be capable of peacefully disarming a troublemaker.
Different types of antioxidant work together in specialized ways to protect you and the different colors of vegetables and fruit correspond to different classes of antioxidants. Hence the advice to eat from each color every day.
Even the very process of energy production in your cells produces free radicals. If we don’t have enough antioxidants the mitochondria that produce most of our energy become damaged and shut down and fatigue results.
Eating From Each Color Group Is Feasible
To support your great health eat upward of seven portions of vegetables and fruit per day, limiting the fruit to 1-2 portions a day, and covering the different colors. You may think I am asking the impossible but if you look at the chart it is quite possible to do.
A salad with grated purple carrot, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, onion or garlic covers all bases affordably in one sitting. When purple carrots are out of season grate a bit of red cabbage instead or just pick another item from the purple column to eat sometime in the day.
Chewing raw cabbage with a protein containing meal also releases highly beneficial detoxifying glucosinolates, and can help heal your gut by promoting endothelial growth factor and activating aryl hydrocarbon receptors. Purple is often the most lacking and requires the most effort to ensure a daily intake of seasonal produce but it can be done.
Some of us have a genetic predisposition to require even larger quantities of plant antioxidants to protect us from the toxins of the modern world and may need to eat in the order of a kilogram of non-starchy plant matter per day!
Could Juicing Be The Answer?
A recent study has shown that 80% of the antioxidants in purple carrots are bound to the fibre in the carrot. Bacteria in your colon will then break down the fibre which releases the antioxidants and protects your colon from cancer. (It is already known that bacteria in your colon produce short-chain fatty acids from fibre which also protects you from cancer).
So eating the whole carrot rather than juicing benefits your colon.
I still maintain that if your genetics mean that in today’s world you need an extra antioxidant punch then juicing can help you get that extra since all parts of the body need protection, not just the colon, which happens to be the focus of this study.
However, I would advise to eat from all of the colors in solid form every day, and see the juicing as extra protection if you need it. I do not advise juicing sweet fruit nor making large quantities of juice from sweet vegetables such as carrot or beetroot.
When you do juice carrot and beetroot have it with a protein meal with only a small portion of other carbohydrates. This prevents too fast a release of sugars into your bloodstream and the resulting hormone imbalances, fatigue and weight gain.
Eat your fruit fresh (not dried) and in its whole form so that the fibre slows down the release of sugar and enjoy it on an empty stomach to prevent fermentation.
Juicing is also very helpful for those with digestive conditions that are sensitive to fibre as part of a therapeutic (and hopefully short-term) diet.
The colourful phytochemicals found in vegetables and fruit also turn on anti-inflammatory genes and turn off pro-inflammatory genes reaching deep within the nuclei of your cells to protect you.
Thus, good antioxidant status is vital in order to enjoy abundant mental and physical energy, to burn energy for weight loss and reduce fat-building inflammation. Also, to slow down the ageing process and to help avoid almost every disease you can think of from cardiovascular disease and cancer to depression and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.