Originally Posted on June 30, 2013
You may have heard the saying, "Eat a Rainbow Each Day" and it's good advice. Each color of food carries essential nutrients and just like an artist needs a variety of paint colors to choose from, our bodies need a variety of colors so we can be the masterpiece we're meant to be.
A fruit or vegetable’s color can tell you a lot about which nutrients it gives the body. The color of the skin is determined by the specific plant compounds it contains, and foods in the same color family provide similar nutrients and health benefits. Your goal is to add some of each color to your daily diet.
Red foods are made red by two antioxidants—lycopene and anthocyanin. Lycopene is associated with reduced incidence of cancer, cardiovascular disease and macular degeneration and is said to lower bad cholesterol and enhance immunity. Anthocyanin has been shown to possibly relieve pain, depression and anxiety.
Orange foods have high levels of beta-carotene, which has cancer-fighting, anti-viral and eyesight-improving qualities.
YELLOW AND WHITE
Yellow foods have high levels of beta-cryptoxanthin, a brain-booster. Fruits and veggies with whitish flesh (garlic, onions, coconut, bananas, mushrooms) can help reduce the risk of stroke by 52 percent. A recent 10-year study concluded that the white-fleshed foods are rich in the flavonoid quercetin and were better than all other colored produce in reducing the risk of stroke.
Green foods get their color from chlorophyll, which is antibacterial and stimulates the growth and maintenance of lean muscle tissue. Green foods are also the richest source of zeaxanthin and lutein, which research shows reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases, inlcuding cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
BLUE AND PURPLE
The purple and blue colors in produce come from flavonoids called anthocyanins. These are powerful antioxidants that protect cells from damage and may reduce cancer and stroke risks, improve memory and improve longevity.
For a wonderful article to read about the colors of produce, click here.
An important reminder for you . . . varieties of produce are heavily sprayed with pesticides, so choose organic especially for foods like berries, bananas and greens.