Walking around the market, especially this time of year, you’ll see a variety of colors – greens, yellow, red, blue, purple, orange & more. Did you know that these colors actually serve a purpose?
Fruits and vegetables contain nutrients and phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are natural compounds derived from plants that can have health benefits when consumed. Unlike nutrients, omission of phytonutrients in one’s diet will not cause deficiency, but including them can have additional health benefits. Phytonutrients also benefit the plant itself, helping to protect from pests and environmental stressors.
Today, we are highlighting some of the most prevalent colors and phytonutrients that we can find at the market.
Red – Red foods contain phytonutrients that may help reduce the risk for certain cancers, along with helping to protect the brain, heart, liver, and immune system. One of the most prevalent red phytonutrients is lycopene which may protect against cancers of the prostate, breast, and skin, and reduce the risk of heart attacks.
Found in: apples, cherries, plums, raspberries, strawberries, watermelon, rhubarb, beets, red onions, radishes, and of course, tomatoes.
Orange – Orange foods help protect the immune system, eyes, and skin and reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Orange foods are known for beta-carotene, which can turn into Vitamin A in the body.
Found in: cantaloupe, acorn and butternut squash, carrots, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes.
Yellow – Yellow foods are beneficial because they contain compounds that are anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and may protect the brain, heart and vasculature, eyes, and skin. Two well-known phytonutrients found in yellow foods are lutein and zeaxanthin, which are especially beneficial for eye health.
Found in: corn, potatoes, Golden Delicious apples and pears.
Green – Green foods are healthy because they contain compounds that are anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and may protect the brain, heart and vasculature, liver, and skin. Green foods contain Glucosinolates which help the liver get rid of toxins.
You’ll find lots of green foods at the market! They include bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, celery, cucumber, beans, peas, a vast variety of greens, and more!
Blue/Purple/Black – Blue/purple/black foods from nature are healthy because they contain compounds that are anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and may protect the brain, heart, and vasculature. It is interesting to note that out of all the colors, this is the category that many people eat the least from on a daily basis. Blue, purple, and black foods contain resveratrol, which helps to promote healthy aging processes by reducing inflammation and blood sugar.
Found in: blueberries, blackberries, purple carrots, eggplant, and purple potatoes.
White/Tan/Brown – These foods might not look like much on the outside but in fact, healthy white/tan/brown foods have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory activity. Allicin is a compound found in white, tan, and brown food that has anti-cancer and blood-pressure-lowering effects.
Found in: onions, garlic, cauliflower, mushrooms, parsnips, potatoes, shallots, and turnips.