How colorful is your diet?
Add these fruits and vegetables to your daily meals to get a variety of beneficial nutrients
Like the colors of the rainbow, your diet should include a bright variety of colors. To make your meals more vibrant, look no further than the produce section.
Fruits and vegetables come in a variety of colors from the whitest whites to the brightest oranges to the deepest purples. Fruit and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals needed by the body to function properly and stay healthy, says Courtnee Cootey, dietitian intern at St. Joseph’s Hospital.
Fruits and vegetables get their coloration from varying plant pigments and each color family has specific health benefits, Cootey says. In fact, the most vibrant colored fruits and vegetables are the richest in vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.
Adults should aim for three to five servings of vegetables a day and three to four servings of fruit a day, Cootey says. Adding a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables to meals can help reach this goal, as well as getting the maximum benefit of the different nutrients that are in the different colors of foods.
“Different fruits and vegetables contain different nutrients and when eaten as part of a healthy diet can help maintain health and may even fight off disease, reduce heart disease risk and reduce risk for some types of cancers,” Cootey says.
Let’s take a look at why you should add different colors of fruits and veggies to your diet:
Red: These foods contain lycopene, which is an antioxidant that can help fight cancer and keep eyes healthy, Cootey says. They also are packed with vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium and antioxidants.
Examples: Raspberries, tomatoes, watermelon, red cabbage, strawberries, beets and even kidney beans
Orange/Yellow: These foods are rich in beta-carotene, which the body converts to Vitamin A. Vitamin A helps maintain eye health and keep skin, teeth and bones healthy. Citrus fruits included in this color family are not a good source of vitamin A, Cootey says; however, they are a good source of vitamin C, which is important for bone and heart health.
Examples: Oranges, lemons, yellow squash, pineapple, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and yellow/orange bell peppers
Green: Most of these fruits and veggies are packed full of Vitamin K, which helps blood to clot properly, Cootey says. Additionally, they contain potassium, which is good for heart health. This color family also helps maintain vision and strong bones and teeth. Dark green, leafy vegetables, in particular, have the highest concentration of antioxidants and fiber.
Examples: Kale, spinach, cucumber, zucchini, green pepper, green apples, kiwi and avocado
Blue/Purple: This color family is known to be high in antioxidants that can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. They also boost urinary tract health and memory function and promote healthy aging.
Examples: Blueberries, blackberries, eggplant, purple carrots, purple grapes, purple potatoes and raisins
White: High in fiber, these fruits and vegetables help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and promote good GI function.
Examples: Bananas, apples, pears, cauliflower, onions and mushrooms