Eat the RainBow

Look beyond (dull) brown lentils and get your antioxidant hit with a more colourful plate

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
Look beyond (dull) brown lentils and get your antioxidant hit with a more colourful plate.
Corbis/Click Photos
Corbis/Click Photos

It’s the health-buzzword we hear all the time: antioxidants! Sounds great, but what are they? “Antioxidants mop up free-radicals [toxins] in the body often caused by stress, alcohol, sunlight and pollution,” says dietitian Julie Gilbert. “Brightly-coloured fruits and vegetables are a rich source of antioxidants,” she adds.

Fresh, frozen, dried or canned – it doesn’t matter how you eat your rainbow foods, the pot-of-gold reward at the end will be bright eyes, glowing skin, and heightened health all over. Read on to find out which coloured food groups you should be adding to your shopping basket.


Foods: Broccoli, spinach, bok choy, cabbage, lettuce and sprouts (alfalfa and Brussels). 

Magic Ingredients: Phytochemicals, lutein and folate. These antioxidants are like a mini medical team, scooting around the body to heal damaged cells.


Foods: Apricots, pawpaw, oranges, pumpkin and carrots.

Magic Ingredient: Carotenoids, a classic mop-up-the-toxins antioxidant that helps with cell function.


Foods: Garlic, onions, potatoes and bananas.

Magic Ingredients: Allicin (in garlic) and potassium. Allicin, which gives garlic its aroma and flavour, cleans up all the junk in your body. It’s classed as a super-antioxidant (like green tea). Potassium is an anti-inflammatory, so you’ll get less aches and pains.


Foods: Tomatoes, watermelon and red grapefruit.

Magic Ingredient: Lycopene, your body’s defense hero. It protects white blood cells (the infection fighters). The highest lycopene content seems to be found in tomatoes that have been cooked with a little bit of fat – the perfect excuse for pasta.


Foods: Eggplants, prunes, blueberries, blackberries and red wine (settle down, ladies – this means one glass only).

Magic Ingredients: Lutein and zeaxanthin. These nice guys relax your blood vessels so your heart has an easier time pumping. They also help prevent age-related macular degeneration of the eye.

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