It’s true that eating fruits and vegetables are a huge part of eating right. But it is not enough to just get your recommended servings a day, it’s equally important to eat a wide variety of colors of fruits and vegetables.
Huh? Colors, that’s right, colors.
Different pigments in foods, called phytonutrients, signal a particular group of vitamins and minerals and play a key role in preventing disease, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Here’s a list of a few fruits and vegetables decoded by benefits and color:
Red: Tomatoes, raspberries, red bell peppers, tart cherries, cranberries, rhubarb, pomegranates and beets are packed with antioxidants and fiber, which are both good for heart health as well as overall health. Bite into red apples for a healthy dose of quercetin to fight allergies, colds and flu. Red grapefruit, tomatoes and watermelon have lycopene, which may prevent cancer.
Orange: Butternut squash, cantaloupes, oranges, orange peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes and pumpkins are full of vitamin C, which doubles as an antioxidant. Choose carrots for the extra benefit of vitamin A (beta-carotene) for eye health, and fiber, potassium and vitamin B6 for overall health.
Yellow: Bananas are loaded with fiber, to aid digestion, potassium, which can help keep menstrual cramps at bay, and vitamin B6 for general health. Summer and spaghetti squash, along with yellow bell peppers have manganese, potassium, vitamin A, fiber and magnesium.
Purple: Plums, concord grapes and blackberries are chock-full of antioxidants. One in particular, called anthocyanin, protects blood vessels from breaking and preserves collagen, which is needed for healthy, glowing skin. Purple vegetables, including purple cabbage, purple carrots, radicchio and eggplant, have lots of vitamin A and flavonoids.
White: Garlic, white onions and leeks protect against heart disease, atherosclerosis and cholesterol. Parsnips, cauliflower and rutabagas have vitamin C and vitamin K, folate and fiber, which helps keep you regular.
(Photo: Hans Wiedl/Landov)