Do you remember when you were in school and the teachers would always say to us that it was important to eat a rainbow of colors from fruits and vegetables every day? Well, they told the truth!
Fruits and vegetables of varying colors have different effects on the body, ranging from a variety of different antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins.
Why You Need to Eat a Rainbow Everyday
Follow the list below to find the benefits that each color serves our body:
Red Fruit and Vegetables
Contain the antioxidant known as lycopene – lycopene protects the skin from sun damage and protects against cancer and heart disease. Other antioxidants that red foods give us are Ellagic acid (may slow the growth of some tumors caused by certain carcinogens), Quercetin (scavenge free radicals and have been shown to prevent immune cells from releasing histamines – chemicals that cause allergic reactions – thus preventing allergies. It has also been shown to protect against heart disease, high cholesterol (reduces LDL), and rheumatoid arthritis), and Hesperidin (improves circulation (such as improving varicose veins), reduces inflammation, and helps prevent cancer).
Examples of Red Foods: beets, blood oranges, cherries, cranberries, guava, papaya, pink grapefruit, pomegranates, raspberries, radishes, red apples, red bell peppers, red chilli peppers, red grapes, red pears, red potatoes, rhubarb, strawberries, tomatoes, watermelon.
Orange Fruit and Vegetables
Most often known for their high vitamin C content, these fruits & vegetables are excellent for the immune system and the skin. They are also rich in beta-carotene (the main orange pigment we see in these foods), an antioxidant that converted in the body to vitamin A. Vitamin A helps protect against cancer and heart disease and slows the progression of cataracts. It also helps protect the skin against sunburn and prevents macular degeneration. Orange fruits & vegetables also contain zeaxanthin, an antioxidant that is crucial in protecting the eyes and improving our vision.
Examples of Orange Foods: butternut squash, apricots, cantaloupe, carrots, oranges, papayas, persimmons, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, tangerines.
Yellow Fruit and Vegetables
Yellow foods are very close relatives to orange foods, thus they contain many of the same antioxidants such as carotenoids. Yellow foods help your heart, vision, digestion, and immune system. Yellow foods have also been found to reduce inflammation in the joints, and they also support the respiratory system, such as protecting against lung cancer.
Yellow Foods: bananas (could also be classified as white), lemons, mangoes, nectarines, peaches, pineapples, corn, yellow apples, yellow beets, yellow figs, yellow pears, yellow peppers, yellow potatoes, yellow summer squash, yellow tomatoes, yellow watermelon (moon & stars!), yellow winter squash.
Green Fruit and Vegetables
Green fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins, making them some of the most potent detoxers of the human body. Green vegetables are high in chlorophyll, a molecule that is often compared to the hemoglobin molecule in our own blood (the molecule structure of both is practically identical, except that our blood contains the center molecule iron whereas chlorophyll contains the center molecule magnesium). Chlorophyll supports our blood system by increasing the number of red blood cells, reducing anemia, and enriching the blood. It also eliminates heavy metals and other toxins and acts as a deodorant by neutralizing bacteria that cause body odor and purifies the breath and mouth. Did you know that chlorophyll also helps with nicotine with-drawl when trying to quit smoking? It also detoxes the liver and prevents parasites from breeding in the intestine. Green foods are essential in our diets!
Green Foods: artichokes, arugula, asparagus, avocados, broccoli, brussels sprouts, celery, chayote squash, Chinese cabbage, cucumbers, endive, green apples, kale, green beans, green cabbage, green grapes, green onion, green peas, green peppers, honeydew, kiwi, leafy greens (romaine, leaf lettuce, iceberg, etc.), leeks, lettuce, limes, okra, peas, spinach, watercress, zucchini.
Blue/Purple Fruit and Vegetables
These foods contain a unique set of antioxidants called flavonoids. Flavonoids help support the cardiovascular system by preventing blood vessels from rupture or leakage. They also enhance the effects of vitamin C and efficiently scavenge free radicals in the body which helps prevent damage to other cells in our body. Flavonoids also prevent short-term memory loss, and foods that are especially pigmented with dark blue and purple hues (such as blueberries and blackberries) were found to make brain cells respond better to incoming messages and support neurogenesis (growth of new neurons)! Blue pigments also contain resveratrol which has been found to include many benefits such as anti-aging properties, weight loss, cancer prevention, and anti-inflammatory effects.
Blue/Purple Foods: black currants, blackberries, blueberries, dried plums, eggplant, elderberries, grapes, plums, pomegranates, prunes, purple Belgian endive, purple potatoes, purple asparagus, purple cabbage, red onion, purple carrots, purple figs, purple peppers, raisins.
White Fruit and Vegetables
White foods are incredibly supportive of the immune system. They contain beta-glucans, substances that increase the production of white blood cells (which are involved in immune system support) and increase cellular mobilization (allowing immune cells to respond faster to harmful invaders). They are also rich in EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) which is a potent antioxidant (also found in teas such as green tea) that has been found to aid in the treatment of many diseases such as cancer.
White/Brown Foods: brown pears, cauliflower, dates, garlic, ginger, Jerusalem artichokes, jicama, kohlrabi, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, potatoes, shallots, turnips, white corn, white nectarines, white peaches.