According to the USDA, a balanced diet should consist of at least 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. While consuming the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables is important, an emphasis should be placed on variety. Eating a diet that consists solely of a few types of foods will result in the absence of key nutrients needed for good health.
Have you ever heard the term “eat the rainbow”? Fruits and vegetables come in various colors which offer different types and amounts vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. The most vibrant colored fruits and vegetables pack the most nutrients. Eating an array of colors will ensure that you get the benefits from all of them.
Below you will find fruits and vegetables grouped within their color category.
“Going Green” isn’t just a term to describe buying a hybrid car or using recycled materials. Dark green fruits and vegetables are nutritional powerhouses that are packed with a long list of nutrients such as dietary fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin C. These foods have properties that support eye health, arterial function, liver function, cell health, and lung health and help with wound healing and gum health.
Foods: Broccoli, kale, spinach, collard greens, avocado, kiwi, green grapes, Brussel sprouts, lime, peas, Swiss chard, and romaine lettuce
Phytonutrients: isoflavones, isothiocyanantes, sulphoraphane, EGCG, lutein/zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene.
Orange and yellow are two of the most vibrant colors in the spectrum. Orange foods in particular contain a plant compound called carotenoids. Beta-carotene is a carotenoid that is converted in the body to vitamin A. Vitamin A plays many important roles in the body including maintain eye health, regulating cell growth and development, and supporting the function of white blood cells (important for a healthy immune system). The phytonutrient bromelain which is found in pineapples can help reduce infection, swelling, and help with indigestion.
Foods: Sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, squash, cantaloupe, lemon, pineapple, peach, banana, papaya, oranges, and corn
Phytonutrients: beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, bromelain, beta crytoxanthin, lutein/zeaxanthin, and hesperidin
Everybody’s heard the term “an apple a day keeps the doctors away”. This statement can also be applied to a wide variety of other red fruits and vegetables. Red fruits and veggies are loaded with powerful, healthy phytonutrients such as lycopene and anthocyanins that may do everything from protecting against heart disease, prostate cancer, urinary tract infections to decreasing the risk for stroke and macular degeneration.
Foods: Apples, tomatoes, watermelon, red grapes, pomegranate, cherries, radish, raspberries, red peppers, strawberries, cranberries
Phytonutrients: lycopene, anthocyanins, hesperidin, quercetin, ellagic acid
Purple fruit and vegetables contain compounds called anthocyanins, which give these foods their violet hue. Anthocyanins are a group of phytonutrients that stand out for their antioxidant content. Foods in this group have been found to help fight cancer, promote healthy aging and support brain, heart, arteries, and cognitive health.
Foods: Purple sweet potatoes, beetroot, eggplant, blueberries, black berries, squash, figs, purple cabbage, purple cauliflower, and acai berries.
Phytonutrients: anthocyanins, resveratrol, phenolic, flavonoid
White/tan foods may seem rather dull when compared to other brightly colored foods, but that doesn’t mean they’re not nutritious. Eating fruits and vegetables whose flesh is white may protect against stroke and supports healthy bones, arterial function, and circulatory system.
Foods: Onions, mushrooms, white beans, cauliflower, garlic, turnips, ginger, potatoes, chickpeas, leeks, scallions, and coconuts.
Phytonutrients: indoles, glucosinolates, quercetin, EGCG, allicin