Could it be that turning your plate in to a color wheel is the easiest way to get your daily nutrition? Science says yes. Indulging in the full color spectrum of fruits and vegetables ensures you’re getting all the right vitamins and nutrients. The phytonutrients in produce are responsible for giving each fruit and vegetable its unique hue. Keep scrolling for our easy guide to each color group.
Red and pink foods are naturally high in lycopene, a pigment thought to naturally protect against cancer. A powerful antioxidant, lycopene eliminates oxygen-free radicals, effectively repairing damaged genes. Watermelon and pink grapefruit are among the most healthy examples. If you’re going to reach for tomatoes, be sure to purchase whole tomatoes (or products packaged in a glass jars or Tetra Paks). Tart cherries are counted as a powerful anti-inflammatory food. Anthocyanins, the antioxidant compounds in tart cherries responsible for the fruit's bright color, possess a high antioxidant capacity for reducing inflammation.
- Pink Grapefruit
Light to yellow greens such as zucchini, collards and green peas are naturally high in lutein and zeaxanthin, both nutrients that protect the eyes.Try adding in some of our favorite unexpected salad ingredients, like fennel or mulberries for an added kick. Try zucchini squash pasta as an alternative to grains. Eliminating inflammatory foods, such as grains and refined sugars, even over small periods of time can reduce inflammation and help the body to detox more effectively.
From cabbage to kale, cruciferous greens provide compounds such as indoles and isothiocyanates, triggering the body to produce enzymes needed to detoxify and eliminate free radicals in the blood. Chock-full of vitamins and fiber, studies from The American Institute for Cancer Research show cruciferous veggies can lower or stop the growth of cancer cells. Cruciferous greens contain sulforaphane, a phytochemical that can stimulate enzymes in the body to detox carcinogens in the body before they cause cell damage. The greens also naturally reduce oxygen-free radicals, further aiding in cancer prevention.
- Brussels Sprouts
Bright orange foods contain alpha and beta carotene. The body converts beta carotene to the active form of vitamin A and is vital for keeping your bones strong. It also boosts your immune system. Eating carrots regularly can strengthen your eye health. They also help to sweep up free radicals. Sweet potatoes rank among the top foods Dr. Weil recommends for an anti-inflammatory diet. Complex carbohydrates contain vitamins B6 and C, along with beta-carotene, manganese, and dietary fiber—all powerful antioxidants and nutrients to fights inflammation.
- Sweet Potatoes
Blue foods contain anthocyanins and proanthocyanins. These antioxidants are key contributors to brain function and heart health. Berries are also low glycemic indicators, making them a fantastic fruit if you’re monitoring your blood sugar. Blueberries in particular are stacked with anti-inflammatory antioxidants and phytoflavinoids in addition to being high in potassium and vitamin C. Also good news? Flash-frozen produce is available year-round and retains almost all of the nutrient value. Adding a half-cup of blueberries to your daily routine is an easy and potent way to get your superfood fix.
Do you pay attention to the color of the foods in your diet? Let us know in the comments below.