The colors of food
Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is important for optimal health. Eating the rainbow of colors is a fundamental tip (not artificially colored foods). What does this mean? Why is it important to have a variety of fruits and vegetables colored in the diet ? We may be tempted to limit our choices only to certain foods that are pleasing to us and to our family by easily falling into the routine. But the truth is that our body benefits from the variety of foods. For optimal health, we need a rainbow of colors and nutrients. In fact, the variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables have enormous healing powers. Eating a variety of colored foods can be an easy way to get a full range of vitamins and minerals that your body needs to thrive. The advice to “eat the rainbow” is often used for children. They particularly need a variety of foods in their diet but this also applies to adults. Why do fruits and vegetables have so many different colors? Each color of fruit and vegetables is given by specific phytonutrients, natural substances that help protect plants from cryptogams, insects, harmful rays of the sun and other threats.
Each color indicates an abundance of specific nutrients
Let’s see what the color of food can tell us about nutrition and how we can get more out of the colorful range of phytonutrients to help the body work better. Red fruits and vegetables help reducing the risk heart disease, improve skin quality and more.
Fruits and vegetables of red color
They contain phytochemicals including lycopene and ellagic acid. These powerful nutrients have been studied for their anti-tumor effects and other health benefits. For example, a daily dose of tomato sauce has been found to reverse prostate cancer progression Watermelon compared to tomatoes has an even higher content in bio-available lycopene. Watermelon is also rich in a phytonutrient called citrulline effective for the treatment of mild and moderate erectile dysfunction. Strawberries can prevent and even reverse esophageal cancer.The best way to provide the necessary phytonutrients to the body is to incorporate whole foods into the diet. Intake of lycopene and beta-carotene, in the form of supplements, can only increase the risk of cancer whereas, the consumption of phytonutrients in the form of whole foods, such as tomato sauce, has shown instead to reduce the risk of cancer.
The fruit and vegetables of orange and yellow
They improve immune function, reduce the risk of heart disease, promote eye health and more. Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamin C and carotenoids, including beta-carotene. The latter, inside the body, turns into vitamin A. Promotes good vision and cell growth. Citrus fruits contain a unique phytonutrient called hesperidin (7) which helps increase blood flow and has an important role on health. For those who tend to have cold hands and feet, eating an orange a day can help overcome the problem. More importantly, the consumption of citrus fruit, can reduce the risk of stroke.
Green fruits and vegetables
They stimulate the immune system, help detoxify the body, restore energy, vitality and more. Green foods are among the healthiest we can eat. Green fruits and vegetables are rich in lutein, isothiocyanates, isoflavones and vitamin K (essential for the health of blood and bone. In addition, green vegetables are rich in folate, nutrients particularly important for pregnant women to prevent congenital disabilities. Cruciferous, like broccoli, have been shown to improve immune function, while dark and leafy green ones such as black cabbage can improve mood. Kiwi has been shown to help alleviate a wide range of diseases, from the common cold to irritable bowel syndrome (12) to insomnia and can even help repair DNA damage.
Blue and purple fruits and vegetables
They fight cancer, inflammation and help slow down aging. Blue and violet fruits and vegetables are rich in phytonutrients, including anthocyanins and resveratrol. They have been extensively studied for their anti-cancer and anti-aging properties. Studies show that bioactive phytochemicals in blue berries can repair damage caused by oxidative stress and inflammation. The red cabbage, which is purple, is one of the best with the highest level of antioxidants in relation to its cost.
White and brown fruits and vegetables
They protect against certain types of cancer, strengthen bones and are a healthy choice for the heart system. White and brown fruits and vegetables, even if they are not colored like other foods, still represent a healthy choice and contain many phytonutrients. Like broccoli, cauliflower is a cruciferous (18) rich in an anticancer compound called sulforafano. Garlic and onions are from the allium family and contain powerful anticancer compounds (19) such as allicin and quercetin. The phytonutrients contained in white mushrooms (20) have the ability to inhibit aromatase activity and the proliferation of breast cancer cells.