I just read a fascinating article about the benefits of colorful produce in one of my favorite health publications – Berkeley Wellness. I don’t pretend to be a registered dietician, but I thought you might enjoy reading about the unique benefits we get from different colors of fruits and vegetables. For the details, I encourage you to check out Berkeleywellness.com.
We all assume that colorful fruits and vegetables are “good for us,” but it’s fun to learn about each individual color’s specific benefits. Here goes!
Tomatoes, pink grapefruit, watermelon and guava contain something called lycopene, a red pigment. Lycopene may inhibit the growth of cancer cells in various ways. Who knew?
RED, PURPLE AND BLUE
Blueberries, strawberries, beets, eggplant, red and blue grapes, red cabbage, plums, red apples and cherries contain potent antioxidants that provide a reddish blue color. These antioxidants may help protect against heart disease. What a delicious way to keep your heart healthy!
Acorn and butternut squash, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, apricots, carrots, mangoes and cantaloupe contain alpha and beta carotene, which provide an orange color. As an antioxidant, beta carotene helps mop up free radicals that may promote cancer. Alpha carotene intake has been linked with a reduced risk of various cancers, including lung and cervical cancer. Go, carotenes!
Peaches, oranges, tangerines, nectarines and papayas are rich in beta cryptoxanthin. (I have no idea how to pronounce that……). But it must be great, because in addition to acting as an antioxidant, this pigment may help suppress the growth of tumor cells, as in cervical cancer. What’s not to love?
Corn, cucumbers (with skin) green beans, green peas, yellow and green peppers, honeydew melon, kiwifruit, romaine lettuce and spinach contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that seem to protect eye health. They may reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration, which can cause loss of vision. So much for our outdated assumption that only carrots that are good for our eyes!
So, think COLOR when you shop for and eat produce! The darker and richer the colors, the better. Pale plant foods such as bananas, pears, and cauliflower also have their share of phytochemicals, and well and vitamins and minerals, so don’t feel like you have to eliminate them from your diet. But after learning about the impressive benefits of each color, you’ll want to include highly colored produce in every meal and snack. Enjoy the colorful spectrum!