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The Nutrition Centre

Colour Key to Fighting Winter Colds and Flu          

colourful vegetablesBefore you stock up on over-the-counter cold and flue pills of every description and colour, consider buying a box of fruit and vegetables!  Why?  Because boosting your intake of antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetables could be your best defence against winter sniffles and sneezes according to accredited practising dietitians. (1)

Leading health organisations recommend eating a wide variety of in-season fruit and vegetables in a range of colours. How much to do you need to get your best defences ready?  It is recommended that we have two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables a day(2).

There are two potent forces at odds with eat other during winter months.  One is our natural desire to keep warm through ‘comfort’ foods such and indoor hibernation.  The other is the requirements of our immune system.

Dr Trent Watson, accredited practising dieticians and Dietitians Association of Australia spokesperson says, ‘Some studies have shown that carotenoids can help immune function, and the antioxidant allicin is said to have antiviral properties.  But here is no solver bullet for a strong immune system.  Eating a wide range of fruit and vegetables each day will give us the best mix of antioxidants, in the right amounts.’  For a healthy immune system, Dr Watson also recommended eating enough zinc, found in lean red meat, fish and poultry as well as wholegrain cereals, legumes, reduced-fat dairy foods and nuts.

Dr David Heber(3), author of “What Color Is Your Diet” breaks down the fruit/veggie colour code into seven major groups as follows.

Red Group

Canned or bottled tomato juice and mixed vegetable juice; canned tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, pasta sauces; prepared tomato soup; prepared tomato salsa; pink grapefruit; watermelon.

Red/Purple Group

Bottled grape juice (100% juice), bottled cranberry juice or frozen cranberry juice concentrate, frozen whole berries, purple cabbage, red peppers, fresh apples pears, berries and cherries.

Orange Group

Fresh and frozen carrots and winter squash; mango; rockmelon (cantaloupe); apricots.

Orange/Yellow Group

Fresh or frozen orange juice, papaya, pawpaw, pineapple, yellow grapefruit, pineapple juice, nectarines, oranges, peaches and tangerines.

Yellow/Green Group

Fresh or frozen spinach, collard greens, mustard greens, avocados and turnip greens. Green peppers, salad greens and honeydew melon.

Green Group

Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower.

White/Green Group

Onions, garlic, celery, mushrooms.


Examples of seasonal fruit and vegetables available in winter are:

Beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprout, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celery, fennel, leek, onion, parsnip, potato, pumpkin, silver beet, spinach, swede, sweet potato, turnip. Apple, grapefruit, kiwifruit, lemons, mandarin, Naval orange, rhubarb.


Source: Weight Loss Health Editorial Team



(1) Dietitians Association of Australia

(2) "Go for 2&5" program

(3) What Color is Your Diet, Dr David Heber, HarperCollins Publishers






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