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Byline: By Nan Spowart

COLOUR is key this summer,and not just in your wardrobe but on your plate N New research has confirmed that if you want to be healthy it's best to eat a want to be healthy it's best to eat a low-fat diet with lots of colourful fruit and vegetables.

So, when your mother used to tell youe full storyyour greens ... and your yellows, reds, greens ... and your yellows, reds, purples, whites, oranges and browns.' The reason is that the colours you put on your plate can make all the difference to your health.

A healthier you will be.

Eating foods all the colours of the rainbow is particularly important in the battle against heart disease, Scotland's biggest killer.

American researchers have discovered that eating colourful fruit and veg can double the effectiveness of a low-fat diet in reducing cholesterol. Although all low-fat meals can lower the risk of heart disease, some are healthier than others.

For example, eating lean meat with bright orange carrots and dark greenght spinach is healthier than wishy-washy iceberg lettuce and reduced fat pizza,even though they are both equally low in dangerous fats.

Stir-fried lean beef and low-fat chocolate biscuits are okay, but much healthier with the addition of strips of red and yellow peppers, carrot batons and a dark green salad.

Research has shown it's more important to focus on what you are putting on your plate, rather than get get stressed about what you shouldn't be eating.

'We have been too focused on the negative - what to avoid - instead of instead of what to include,' said Dr Christopher Gardner, of Stanford University Medical Centre in California.

In his study, one group of adults was given a conventional low-fat diet that that focused on avoiding saturated fat and cholesterol.

The second group ate the same amount of fat and cholesterol, plus lots of colourful fruit and veg.

After a month, there was a dramatic difference in the two groups with much erence in the two groups with much lower bad cholesterol found in theer bad cholesterol found in the people eating fruit and vegetables. As a result, the researchers recommended that our diets shouldommended that our diets should include more colours - plant foods like udemore colours - plant foods like red bell peppers, carrots, broccoli and red cabbage.

cabbage' It is probably more helpful to say eat five colours of fruit and veg a day rather than five servings,' said Dr Gardner. 'If you are eating red, yellow, orange, green and purple in one day, you are doing pretty well and probably won't have so much room left for the unhealthy options. And by getting variety you will be getting more of a benefit.'

Colourful fruit and veg not only protect against heart disease but also against cancer, cataracts and other age-related problems. It may also help women through the menopause and lessen the effects of PMT.

Other research shows children who do not eat enough colourful fruit and veg are more at risk from asthma.

'To be healthy the answer is to try to eat as many colours of fruit and veg as you can,' said independent dietician Lyndel Costain. 'Try and mix the colours on your plate as much as possible.'

As a rule of thumb, the fruit and vegetables with the strongest colours are the most effective.

'They contribute different compounds and deeper colours tend to be richer in vitamins, minerals and beneficial phytochemicals,' said Lyndel.

For example, orange fruit and veg not only protects against heart disease and cancer, but also boosts immunity from infections, colds, flu, cystitis, conjunctivitis and skin complaints such as acne.

When you go for green, choose the dark, leafy vegetables where possible because they not only help to lower harmful cholesterol but also offer excellent protection against breast and colon cancer.

Brussel sprouts may smell revolting, but the distinctive smell in sprouts and broccoli is caused by the glucosinolates.

When we eat them, glucosinolates are broken down into isothiocyanates which cause precancerous cells to self-destruct.

Other sources are dark green lettuce and dark green cabbage. In one American study, people who ate cabbage more than once a week reduced their chances of contracting bowel cancer by two thirds.

Glucosinolates are found only in cruciferous vegetables, so if you do not eat them you are missing out.

Red does not signify danger when it comes to plant foods but better health.

Tomatoes contain lycopene which reduces the risk of heart attacks and is also very important in the prevention of prostrate cancer.

You don't have to like raw tomatoes to benefit. Processed ones are full of lycopene and the best news for sauce-loving Scots is that tomato ketchup is a good source, as is tomato soup, tomato puree and canned tomatoes.

Purple and blue are also very good for you.These fruits and vegetables are a good source of a flavonoid called anthocyanins which protects against heart disease and may also help to protect against thread veins and bruises. Research shows they have a reinforcing effect on the capillaries and skin. Look for brambles, blueberries, blackcurrants, aubergines, dark grapes, cherries, prunes, rollo lettuce and red wine.

Prunes, which are high in fibre, also boost resistance to heart disease, cancer and arthritis. In research carried out at the Research Centre on Ageing at Tuft's University in America, prunes did better than any other fruit at mopping up harmful free radicals in the blood.

Blueberries are rich in antioxidants, which may help minimise the effects of age-related memory loss and co-ordination. Animals eating a diet rich in berries showed better performance on tests requiring balance and co-ordination. They also did better on tests of working memory and learning.

Yellow vegetables are not only thought to protect against heart disease, but also contain lutein, a type of carotenoid found concentrated in the retina of the eye.

It offers protection from cataracts and other age-related eye disorders.

Many dark brown foods, such as nuts and pulses, are also good for you as they contain flavonoids which protect against heart disease.

'A variety of fruit and veg is very important and try to add wholegrains to your diet too,' added Dr Gardner.

A plant-based diet combined with weight loss and exercise would achieve even more impressive cholesterol lowering results, he pointed out.

'Until now the effect of diet on lowering cholesterol has been undermined,' he said.

'Researchers thought that the effect was trivial and that drugs were more effective, but we were not really giving diet a fair shake.

'We were just so focused on the negative - just what to avoid - and not what to include.

'Now we know that including colourful fruit and vegetables in your diet can have a huge effect on cholesterol


CRUCIFEROUS vegetables are not only good for your heart, but are key in the fight against cancer.

Brussels sprouts, broccoli, dark green cabbage and curly kale are the best ones to aim for


LYCOPENE reduces the risk of heart attacks and is also very important in the prevention of prostrate cancer. It can be found in pink grapefruit, water melon and tomatoes, fresh and processed


AS well as protecting against heart disease, yellow vegetables contain lutein. This protects against cataracts and other age-related eye disorders.

Try sweetcorn, yellow squash and yellow peppers


GOOD brown foods contain flavonoids, which help to fend off heart disease. These include nuts like walnuts, pulses, seeds and, best of all, dark chocolate. Tea also contains flavonoids


THESE protect against heart disease and possibly thread veins too.

Go for brambles, blackcurrants, blueberries, prunes, aubergines, dark grapes, cherries, rollo lettuce and red wine


SOME white vegetables and fruit give a good source of flavonoids which help prevent heart disease.

They include onions, garlic, cabbage, apples, lettuce, pears and celery


GOOD orange vegetables protect against cancer and infections. These include mangoes, apricots, carrots, orange and red peppers, sweet potato, pumpkin, butternut squash, guavas and papaya
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 5, 2005
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