- Main meals
Vegetables, along with fruit, make up one of the four essential food groups that we should eat each day.
Within this food group we need to aim for lots of variety.
Variety in fruit and vegetables means consuming a veritable rainbow of colours. In other words, we should eat a variety of fruit and vegetables from the different colour groups each day.
The colour groups for fruit and vegetables are: red (eg tomatoes, red peppers, red cabbage); yellow/orange (eg oranges, carrots, pumpkin, apricots, sweet corn); green (eg peas, lettuce, spinach, asparagus, cucumber); blue/purple (eg blueberries, beetroot, blackberries, aubergines); brown/white (eg potatoes, onions, cauliflower; mushrooms).
Fruit and vegetables comprise of many nutrients and phytochemicals (plant chemicals). They are rich in antioxidants which help fight free radicals, which can damage cells and cause cancer. The most common antioxidants in fruit and vegetables are: vitamin C (most fruits are a great source of vitamin C); carotenoids (especially found in the yellow/orange, red and green groups); flavonoids (found in the yellow/orange and green group); vitamin E can also be found in some fruits and vegetables, such as avocado.
Many of the compounds that give fruit and vegetables their colour are also the compounds that are responsible for the many health benefits that fruit and vegetables bring – hence the need to eat a rainbow of fruit and vegetables each day.