Plant Power: Health benefits of fruit and vegetables

Fruit and vegetables come in a variety of colours and are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that boost the immune system and reduce the risk of numerous chronic health conditions. They are also an excellent source of dietary fibre, which can help to reduce cholesterol, promote regular bowel function, and improve gut health.

Eating the recommended 5 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit each day, from different colours and varieties will keep you energised and focused throughout the day.  

There is no better way to care for your health than by focusing on a nutritional intake abundant in fresh, seasonal, and homegrown produce. Growing your own food enables your fruit and vegetables to be picked at their peak and consumed soon after harvesting, meaning high vitamin, mineral and antioxidant levels, fabulous flavour, and freshness – so it is a win on every level.

It is the antioxidants in fruits and vegetables that give them their different colours; so choosing your favourite seeds to plant across the year from each of the colour groups below is a great way to increase exposure to various phytonutrients (plant chemicals) as well as diversity in your dietary intake. See table below that explains the health benefits of different coloured food!  

ColourFruits or VegetablesPhytochemicals & Benefits

🍅 Red



Tomatoes
Capsicum
Strawberries
Apples
Beetroot
Red grapes
Red peppers
Red onion
  • Reduces risk of diabetes & heart disease

  • Cancer protective

  • Improving skin health

  • Carotenoid – Lycopene
    Ellagic acid
    Citrulline

    🥕 Orange and yellow
    Oranges
    Carrot
    Sweet Potato
    Pumpkin
    Peaches
    Banana
    Winter Squash
    Yellow pepper
    Pineapple
    Corn
  • Protects against eye damage (cataracts and age-related macular degeneration)

  • Supports communication between cells in the body

  • May help to prevent heart disease and stroke

  • May protect against UV damage

  • Carotenoid – Beta-carotenoid
    Hesperidin
    🌿 GreenSpinach 
    Avocado
    Asparagus
    Artichokes
    Broccoli
    Alfalfa sprouts
    Kale
    Cabbage
    Kiwi fruit
    Green tea
  • Help to protect against cancer and eye related diseases
  •  
    Sulforaphane
    Isocyanate
    Indoles
    Lutein
    Zeaxanthin

    🍇 Purple
    Blueberries
    Blackberries
    Elderberries
    Raisins
    Eggplant
    Plums
    Figs
    Prunes
    Lavender
    Purple cabbage
  • Delay cellular ageing

  • Reduce blood clots

  • Help to protect against some cancers

  • Assists with memory

  • Anthocyanins

    🧄 White
    Onions
    Cauliflower
    Garlic
    Ginger
    Leeks
    Parsnips
    Turnips
    Daikon radish
    Mushrooms
    Dates
  • Antibacterial and antiviral

  • Helps to protect against some cancers with its anti-tumour properties

  • May reduce inflammation and hypertension

  • Allicin
    Gingerol
    Sulforaphane
    Quercetin
    Kaempferol

    Spice it up!

    Herbs and spices are another ideal way to boost the phytochemical and antioxidant content of a meal. Using these to top meals is a great way to add flavour to your favourite recipes and can help to reduce the need for added salt. Some great herbs to try your hand at planting to easily include in meals at home include:

    • garlic
    • coriander
    • parsley
    • oregano
    • basil
    • thyme
    • sage
    • rosemary
    • chives
    • mint

    Try to eat a rainbow of colourful fruits and vegetables each day to get the full range of colours and consequently vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and  health benefits.  

    So next time you’re thinking about what to grow at home – don’t just consider the seasons, but also give thought to the vegetable colours you are planting. Variety is the spice of life!

    – Catherine (FFH volunteer Dietitian) 🌱

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