Primary Color Choices
Certain fruits and vegetables reveal their benefits through their colors
It’s time to think of your plate as a palette. Since fruits and vegetables should make up a significant portion of our diet, variety will help make meal-planning fun. And as Hayley Miller, RD, LD, a dietitian at St. Joseph’s/Candler explains, more color in your diet means more protective nutrients.
“The naturally-occurring phytochemicals in produce help to give fruits and vegetables their colors,” Miller says. “These phytochemicals work in synergy with the vitamins, minerals, and fiber to promote health and optimal nutrition.”
So which colors have which good stuff? Take a look:
Blueberries, raspberries, cranberries and red radishes are packed with anthocyanins, which lower the risk of heart disease and tumor formation.
Green produce and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and cabbage contains isothiocyanates that help your body remove cancerous compounds.
Sweet potatoes, carrots, mango, and cantaloupe contain beta-carotene, which is a precursor to Vitamin A. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant associated with the prevention of cancers of the lungs and gastrointestinal tract.
Tomatoes, red peppers, watermelon, and pink grapefruit contain a potent antioxidant called lycopene (and can also contain anthocyanins). Lycopene protects against prostate cancer and heart attacks.
Under The Skin
Miller notes that the interior color of a fruit or vegetable determines its color group. So the insides of red and green apples, bananas, and dark purple eggplants are considered white fruit. But they have benefits too. Some contain the isothiocyanates found in green produce, but many also have compounds called flavonoids which have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants can help delay or prevent cell damage.