Ever wonder why we recommend eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables? Your diet should include a variety of colors because the compounds responsible for vibrant color also carry some pretty potent health benefits. Choose a range of items each day to help lower your risk of chronic diseases, reduce the risk of certain cancers and maintain a healthy weight.
Blue fruits and vegetables contain anthocyanin, an antioxidant important for a healthy heart and blood pressure. Blueberries in particular have been linked with improved memory and healthy aging.
What to choose: Blueberries, eggplant (especially the skin), blackberries, prunes, purple grapes, raisins and plums
The pigment chlorophyll gives green fruits and vegetables their colorful hue. Along with vitamin K, folate, and potassium, green goodies have also been shown to help reduce the risk of certain cancers. Some members of the green family contain leutin, which may reduce the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
What to choose: broccoli, cabbage, kiwi, avocado, leafy greens, green apples, asparagus, green beans, cucumbers, green grapes, honeydew melon, limes, peas, green peppers, zucchini
Lycopene, the antioxidant responsible for red, has been associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer and increased heart health.
What to choose: tomatoes, tomato products, watermelon, pink grapefruit, cranberries, red apples, cherries, beets, red peppers, pomegranates, red potatoes, radishes, raspberries, and strawberries
Orange and yellow
Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables are usually colored by natural plant pigments called carotenoids. Beta-carotene in orange fruits and vegetables converts to vitamin A in our bodies. Vitamin A plays an important role in eye health, immunity, skin function and bone health. Citrus fruits also supply a hearty dose of vitamin C and folate.
What to choose: apricots, butternut squash, cantaloupe, carrots, lemons, mangoes, oranges, papayas, peaches, pears, yellow peppers, pineapple, pumpkin, sweet corn, and sweet potatoes
Anthoxanthins supply the white hue to fruits and vegetables. They contain chemicals shown to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
What to choose: bananas, cauliflower, garlic, ginger, jicama, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, potatoes, and turnips