Fruits and vegetables. Some are big, some are small. Some are round, some are oblong. But in honor of St. Patrick’s day and rainbows, today we are talking about the variety of colors that fruits and vegetables come in! Each of the different colors in fruits and vegetables is caused by different nutrients that the food contains. And each of those nutrients has different benefits for your health. So eating a variety of colors will help you keep a well-balanced diet. Let’s break down what some of the different colors mean.
Many red fruits and vegetables contain high amounts of lycopene. Some studies of people eating tomatoes (which are very high in lycopene) have found that tomatoes have an inhibiting effect on cancer cell growth. They also decrease the risk of heart disease and age-related eye issues. Some red food choices: tomatoes, red cabbages, beets, watermelons, red grapes, strawberries, raspberries (my personal favorite!), and cherries
One major component of blue and purple foods is resveratrol. This is the phytonutrient that we may (frequently) use as an excuse to say that wine is good for us. While this is
definitely not a lie, moderation is key. (This is discussed further in my post Alcohol and the Body) Resveratrol has been shown to prevent heart disease by raising HDL (the good cholesterol) and preventing blood clots. Another nutrient that is found in blue and purple food is anthocyanins. This protects against liver damage, has a strong anti-inflammatory effect, and can reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even neurological disease.Some blue and purple food choices: Blueberries, plums, grapes, blackberries, eggplant, purple cabbage, potatoes,
and yes—red wine
Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables are packed with nutrients like beta-carotene and flavonoids. These protect your nervous system and promote eye and skin health. Orange and yellow foods also have a high capacity for cancer prevention. But don’t eat too much! Eating excessive amounts of beta-carotene can and will turn your skin orange! Not that it will hurt anything, you just may look a little like an oompa loompa.
Some orange and yellow food options: carrots, pumpkins, corn, sweet potatoes, yellow peppers, lemons, pineapples, mangos, oranges, grapefruits
So Popeye had us convinced that we needed to eat our greens to grow up big and strong, right? At least that’s what our mothers hoped. And there’s a reason they thought this was so important! There are so many benefits to eating our leafy greens. In addition to improving eye health and decreasing cardiovascular disease, green food has some unique benefits as well. Green vegetables are high in folic acid which is important for pregnant ladies to promote fetal development. Green vegetables are also high in iron which is particularly important for women (particularly athletes) to protect against anemia and fatigue.
Some green food options: Broccoli, arugula, kale, spinach, brussel sprouts, peas, limes, avocados, kiwis
White vegetables tend to lower bad cholesterol. They also can boost immune function. The main phytonutrient in white vegetables is allicin. Allicin has been found to have antibacterial and antiparasitic properties. Some white food options: Garlic, onions, mushrooms, potatoes, cauliflower, bananas, pears
Our goal with all of these nutrients should be to get them from the food we eat (not from supplements). So when you are shopping try to grab as many colors from the produce section as possible! Make it your goal to eat something from every color at lease once a week. If that is easy, bump it up to twice a week.
IDEA Fitness Journal January 2016
Pictures provided by pixabay