When making bentos I always try to stick to the ‘rainbow rule’: to use at least five different colours. Not only is this appealing to the eye, it has health benefits too! Their looks tell you something about the essential nutritients these foods contain. Of course I’m talking about plants and fungi, not artificial colouring ;)

Now I know this is not a bento post ;) Just look at the nice colours in my CSA vegetable bags from the past two weeks!

Amelishof organic CSA vegetables week 46, 2010

Amelishof organic CSA vegetables week 46, 2010

  • Corn salad (green)
  • Beets (purple/red)
  • Bok choi (green)
  • Carrots (orange)
  • Cilantro (green)
  • Tomatoes (red)

Amelishof organic CSA vegetables week 47, 2010

Amelishof organic CSA vegetables week 47, 2010

  • ‘Slobber Cabbage’ (yellow, white, green)
  • Raddichio (red)
  • Romanesco (green)
  • Lettuce (green)
  • Parsley (green)
  • Red Belle de Boskoop apples (Rode van Boskoop; white, yellow)
  • Spring onions (green, white)

If you look closely you’ll see this week’s loot was not completely vegetarian… Not to worry: we saved the poor little guy ;)

About colours and their nutritional compounds

  • Red: anti-oxidants and lycopene, beta-carotene and vitamin C.
  • Blue & purple: anti-oxidants (anthocyanins). Those in grapes and olives might be one of the reasons red wine is thought to lower the risk of heart attack.
  • Green: carotenoids; leafy greens are high in dietary fibre and excellent sources of potassium, magnesium and folate (B-vitamins).
    Quote from Wikipedia: “People consuming diets rich in carotenoids from natural foods, such as fruits and vegetables, are healthier and have lower mortality from a number of chronic illnesses.
    (A. T. Diplock1, J.-L. Charleux, G. Crozier-Willi, F. J. Kok, C. Rice-Evans, M. Roberfroid, W. Stahl, J. Vina-Ribes. Functional food science and defence against reactive oxidative species, British Journal of Nutrition 1998, 80, Suppl. 1, S77–S112)
  • Yellow and orange: beta-carotene, potassium and vitamins C, A & B2; yellow fruits are rich in the mineral potassium, orange food provides zinc and selenium.
  • White (tan & brown): anthoxanthins (flavonoids which exhibit antioxidant properties). White produce such as garlic and onions contain allicin (which may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure). White fruit and vegetables contain nutrients that help provide powerful immune-boosting activity and are good sources of the mineral potassium too.

Note: I’m no expert on nutrition and I’ve used several sources on the Internet to compile this list, so it might contain errors and is probably not complete.