The Natural Color Of Your Foods
The wide array of bright colors that can give fruits and vegetables their visual appeal come from three main types of pigment that are, carotenoids, which gives orange and yellow vegetables their colors; flavonoids, which provides red, blue and cream colors; and chlorophyll, which makes greens green. These colorful compounds also provide health and nutrition benefits. Eating healthfully is simpler and easy when you know what the colors of vegetables indicate about their nutritional value.
We all know that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is important to good health. All fruits and veggies contain important vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients. However, some of these nutrients are color-specific.
Red and Pink
Fruits and vegetables which are red or bright pink, in color contain phytochemical lycopene, as well as anthocyanin. Lycopene has been linked to reducing the risk of various types of cancers and has been especially studied in regards to preventing prostate cancer. Foods which are rich in lycopene include guava, watermelon tomatoes, and pink grapefruit.
Anthocyanin is one of the potents antioxidants which are associated to lowers blood pressure, boost the health of the heart and cardiovascular system, and protects against diabetes.
- Red berries – raspberries, cranberries, red cherries, strawberries
- Red apples
- Red cabbage
- Red onions
- Kidney beans
They are good sources of anthocyanins.
Orange and Yellow
Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables are high in vitamin C, which are vital to optimal immune system function. They also contain beta-carotene, a phytochemical which has been linked to reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer. It also boosts your immune system and helps maintain healthy eyesight.
- Sweet potatoes
- Butternut squash
They all contain high levels of beta-carotene
Fruits and vegetables with the yellow color profile, especially citrus fruits, are a great source of bioflavonoids. These bioflavonoids interact with vitamin C to promote the health of bones, teeth, and skin. They also aid in wound healing and are implicated in lowering the risk of heart attacks.
- Yellow peppers
- Citrus fruits including lemons, tangerines, oranges and grapefruit
They contain contain bioflavonoids
Green vegetables contain an antioxidant lutein. Lutein is connected to support optimal vision, healthy skin and interfering with the thickness of arteries, and lessening the risk of cardiovascular disease. For this reason, lutein is a necessary nutrient for heart health. Great veggie choices for lutein content include green beans, broccoli, cucumbers, green peppers, artichokes, okra, and broccoli.
Dark, leafy greens have their own set of nutritional properties. They are chock full of minerals like magnesium, which is important for energy production in the cells, calcium, which supports bone and nervous system health, potassium, which is key for healthy growth, protein synthesis and muscle building, and also manganese, which supports brain health and keeps the mitochondria, the energy center of cells, that working properly.
Leafy greens are also contained B-vitamins, including folate, which is important to a healthy heart. There are many types of leafy greens; some common types include
- Mustard greens
- Collard greens
Blue and Purple
Like red and orange fruits and vegetables, blue and purple fruits contain anthocyanin. They are also high in phenolic acids, by including flavonoids, hydroxycinnamic acids, and hydroxybenzoic acid. Phenolic acids function by preventing free radical damage in your body and protecting the cells throughout various organ systems. This protection leads to a lessened risk of many types of chronic illnesses.
Common veggies and fruits include
- Purple grapes
Blueberries and blackberries have anti-aging properties, including improving the memory of individuals over the age of 50. Blueberries are also a good source of resveratrol, containing nearly as much of the compound as red grapes.
White vegetables in the onion family contain the phytochemical allicin. Allicin is linked to lower blood pressure, also prevent heart disease and cancer and increases the ability of the immune system to fight infections.
When choosing fruits and vegetables of all colors, remember to choose organic, or, grow your own Organically-grown often has higher levels of nutrients than those of commercially grown counterparts, and is not doused in pesticides and herbicides. These factors combined give you the absolute best chance for an optimal health.