Eat a Rainbow For the Best Range of Nutrients

‘Eat a rainbow’ is a phrase that is becoming more and more used these days, but other than the obvious visual differences, what does this actually mean?

The Magic is in the Colours

Much like different pigments make up different colours in art, different nutrients and phytochemicals, give fruits and veg different colours in nature. To get the benefits of the nutrients available you need to eat a selection of fruits and veg from across the colours of the rainbow. Just think ‘colour’ when you’re shopping in the produce aisle and see how your basket looks.

What Are Phytochemicals?

Now, we’ve all heard of nutrients such as vitamins and minerals, but what are these things called phytochemicals?

Phytochemicals are biologically active compounds that are found in natural foods such as fruit and veg. Although these are not technically classed as nutrients, phytochemicals can have a wonderfully restorative effect on the body, for example, they can boost the immune system to help us keep on top form, and they can help to balance our hormones.

One of the most important aspects of phytochemicals is their antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help to soak up the negative effects of free radicals and oxidants such as smoke and pollution – the things that can cause our cells to age and encourage disease.

The Benefits of Veg Box Veg

With a veg box scheme, not only are you eating vegetables regularly, but you are also getting a range of nutrients and phytochemicals thanks to the different varieties that turn up in your box each week. Not only that, because the veg is organic and fresh from the farm you are getting the best from it. It hasn’t absorbed chemicals, it hasn’t been packaged in plastic and it hasn’t been sitting around in transport vans for days.

To get the best from veg you need to eat it as fresh as possible because as soon as it is picked it starts to lose its nutrients.

Veg Box Review – January

DELIVERY:

My veg box is delivered by the milkman and is left on my doorstep early on a Saturday morning. The veg arrives in a closed cardboard box, which I then put in my recycling. Some of the green veg has come in plastic bags, which I’m not too keen on, but mostly the loose veg has come in brown paper bags.

THE VEG:

The veg arrives pretty much in its natural state, not cut and squished into plastic with the air drawn out like in the supermarket. This veg also arrives with some of the mud still on, which I think is great. I love that earthy, just-out of-the-ground smell and it only takes a matter of seconds to wash off. Because it is not destined for the supermarket shelf, veg-box veg has the freedom to look a little different! It may be slightly larger or smaller, have a funny shape or sport splits or pits, but who cares? They grow how they grow – that’s the way it’s supposed to be. And there’s all the benefits of being organic, too, no pesky pesticides.

JANUARY’S VEG INCLUDED:

• Jerusalem artichoke • Mixed bean sprouts • Cooked beetroot • Raw beetroot • Brussel tops • Cabbage • Red Cabbage • Carrots • Celeriac • Celery • Garlic • Greens • Onions • Parsnips • Yellow pepper • Potatoes • Red-skinned potatoes • Turnips

DIET:

This is definitely a great way to improve your diet. Along with the normal staples each week I’ve eaten things I never would have bought, I’ve liked things I thought I hated, and tried a few new things, too. By having a veg box, I’ve also eaten more colour than before and am starting to ‘eat a rainbow’. Different coloured veg have different vitamins and minerals in them so this is a good thing to try to do. All in all, my diet is having a bit of a shake up and that can only be a good thing.

Mission Bean Sprout – Nutrients in Sprouted Beans

Beansprouts

Bean sprouts . . . I know they’re good for you, but I’ve never really given them a go before. Now I have two boxes of them to munch through in a week – 454g of sprouting lentils, chick peas, aduki and mung beans.

Bean Sprout Nutrients

All the nutrients that go into making a plant are collected in their seeds. These nutrients burst into life when the seeds begin to sprout, so these boxes of bean sprouts are really packing a punch. The label tells me that the sprouts are ‘nutritious and delicious eaten hot or cold’ and are full of enzymes, minerals, and vitamins.

On further investigation I find that all are a good source of protein and fibre, plus:

• Raw sprouted lentils contain:
very good levels of vitamin C, folic acid and manganese and good levels of thiamin, iron, phosphorus and copper.

• Raw sprouted aduki (or adzuki) beans contain: vitamin A, B, C and E, calcium, iron and niacin.

• Raw sprouted mung beans contain: very good levels of a vitamins C and K, riboflavin, folic acid, copper and manganese, and good levels of thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.

• Unsprouted chick peas (garbanzo) contain: very good levels of molybdenum and manganese, and good levels of folic acid, copper, phosphorus, and iron. (I am still looking for reliable information on the nutrients in sprouted chick peas.)

Beans vs Bean Sprouts

Before it sprouts, a bean contains enzyme inhibitors, which prevent it from growing. These enzyme inhibitors also make the beans harder for the body to digest.

As the bean sprouts the enzyme inhibitors are deactivated, which makes the sprouts much easier to digest. This means our bodies can gain more nutritional value from the bean sprouts than the actual beans.

In order to sprout, a bean must have enough energy and nutrients to transform it into a plant so when sprouting occurs the bean is at its nutritional peak. Weight for weight, sprouted beans have a much higher nutritional content.

Random Bean Sprout Stir Fry

For my evening meal I decide to try them hot and opt for a stir fry. As I look for other things to put in the wok, I notice the red cabbage from last week, still in its prime. I chop a third off and shred it. Then I slice up the yellow pepper and some spring onions. I serve the stir fry with egg-fried rice with a splash of soy sauce. It’s a very tasty and colourful meal, and the bean sprouts turn out to be really lovely – a little nutty with a delicate crunch.

Using up random items from my veg box in this way has inadvertently led to me eating a rainbow, something we are told is good for getting a wider range of nutrients into our diet. I would never have bought a red cabbage or a yellow pepper in my regular shop so this has been a good lesson. Both of these veg tasted great so I won’t rule them out again.