Tips on how to eat and drink a rainbow to spring back into health

With many of us adding yet another ‘Covid stone’ during the second and third lockdowns, it’s time to spring into a better routine and regain our mojo on health. Lockdowns have taken a toll on many of us but spring brings positivity and we can now get our diets and health back on track for summer. 

Surveys show that our indoor habits have led to more biscuits, cakes and sweet treats but less exercise – a guaranteed recipe for few extra pounds. Yet, there’s still time to get our rainbow nutrition on track for when we will be back to social life.

A new research review published in the Molecules journal has found “favourable anti-obesity effects of consuming green tea” as well as similar benefits from eating curry.  The effects are linked to polyphenols – powerful compounds found naturally in leaves, fruits, vegetables, roots and nuts.

Dr Carrie Ruxton, from the Tea Advisory Panel says: “The pink, red, yellow, orange and green hues of plant foods bring different polyphenols and bioactive compounds to our diets, and it’s the same with teas. Polyphenols found in several herbal have been linked with surprising health benefits – from blood pressure control to cholesterol reduction – so it’s a useful health hack to team them up with bioactive-rich foods”.

Check out Dr Carrie Ruxton’s 5 health tips on eating and drinking a rainbow for health.

#1. DRINK PINK

With its gorgeous deep pink colour, Hibiscus tea offers a combination of floral notes sharpened by the acidic flavours of cranberry and redcurrant. Dr Carrie Ruxton says: “A clinical study in the Journal of Nutrition found that drinking three daily servings of hibiscus tea significantly lowered systolic blood pressure after six weeks compared with a placebo drink”. Team up with pink grapefruit, not only a vitamin C powerhouse but rich in lycopene, which supports eye health, and naringin, which can lower blood pressure.”

Try pink grapefruit with sweet potato pancakes 

#2. DRINK RED

Well known for its rich red colour, Rosehip tea has an intense tangy taste similar to green apples and ripe plums. Dr Carrie Ruxton notes: “Rose hips have anti-inflammatory properties. A recent review of 24 pharmacological studies found that preparations of rose hips helped to reduce pain and swelling in conditions such as osteoarthritis”.  Team up with red cabbage whose rich red colour comes from anthocyanins. These polyphenols – also found in blueberries – have been linked with antioxidant effects and improved blood sugar control.

Try a red cabbage salad

#3. DRINK YELLOW

With gentle notes of apple and a mild honey-like sweetness, Chamomile tea is a firm favourite at bedtime. “And its benefits for sleep are not an old wives’ tale”, says Dr Carrie Ruxton. “A study in the Journal of Advanced Nursing found that daily chamomile tea for two weeks improved sleep quality and reduced fatigue in a group of new mothers”. Team up with yellow squash which is full of carotenoids, especially lutein and ?-carotene which have been found to protect body cells and DNA from damage.

Try a butternut squash curry

#4. DRINK ORANGE

Made from the leaves of a South African shrub, Rooibos tea has a smooth, gentle flavour with a slight nutty sweetness. Dr Carrie Ruxton says: “In a clinical trial, six weeks of daily rooibos tea stimulated antioxidant pathways in the body and lowered LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides – fats linked with heart disease risk”.  Team up with mango which contains the unique polyphenol, mangiferin, known for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Mango is also rich in vitamins A and C which are good for skin health.
Try salmon with mango salsa

#5. DRINK GREEN

Peppermint and spearmint teas have a refreshing minty taste and a vibrant aroma. Dr Ruxton comments: “While better known for digestion, mint teas can also help re-balance hormone levels. A 30-day randomised trial, in women with polycystic ovary syndrome found that twice daily mint tea reduced testosterone levels and boosted normal female hormones”. Team up with broccoli or bok choi which contain a sulfur-rich compound, called sulforaphane. This has been linked with neuroprotection, for example against cognitive decline and dementia.
Try Cheesy Green Spaghetti

 

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