We’re always looking for ways to make eating vegetables more fun. Adding a bright, colorful, and science-based twist? It might just be our favorite solution ever.
Fruits and vegetables get their colors from carotenoids and flavonoids, antioxidant nutrients that provide a slew of health benefits. Carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein, protect from certain diseases and boost immunity while giving plants an orangy-red hut. Flavonoids, too, protect from disease and are imbued with anti-inflammatory properties within their red, blue, and purple pigments.
Studies have shown that we can best use carotenoids and flavonoids to our advantage by focusing on certain colors groups when enjoying fruits and vegetables. White fruits and vegetables and decreased stroke risk, while the carotenoids found in orange fruits and vegetables can decrease coronary disease up to 32%. Color coding our meals can also benefit the genders in different ways. For example, eating more purple and red produce was found to reduce cholesterol, weight and serum glucose in women.
If you are hesitant about eating your vegetables, one way to make them more palatable is to actually grow them at home. Research shows that engaging more with food in the garden can increase willingness to try foods. This is especially true among children, for whom vegetables can sometimes be a tough sell.
Here are just some of the benefits you can reap by eating the rainbow, broken down by color.
White & Tan
Benefits: A lack of color does not indicate a lack of nutrients. White produce can lower cholesterol and blood pressure, boost immunity and help prevent breast, prostate, and colon cancers.
Plants to Enjoy: Cauliflower; coconut; garlic; ginger, mushrooms; onions; chickpeas
Benefits: Red foods can reduce the risk of certain cancers (particularly lung, chest, and prostate cancers) while boosting immunity, heart health, and brain function.
Plants to Enjoy: Tomatoes; red bell peppers; cranberries; cherries; strawberries; raspberries; cranberries; apples; beets
Benefits: The carotenoids in orange foods help increase immune and eye function. Bonus: they will also leave your skin looking amazing, as they can help your body produce beauty-boosting collagen.
Plants to Enjoy: Carrots; orange bell peppers; apricots; mangoes; pumpkin; sweet potatoes; turmeric
Benefits: Also due to carotenoids, yellow produce can help improve eye function, boost immunity, and promote skin and heart health. They also contain Vitamin C, folate, potassium, and calcium.
Plants to Enjoy: Yellow bell peppers; bananas; lemons; pineapple; summer squash
Benefits: We love our greens! Packed with healthy compounds such as chlorophyll and isoflavones, green foods are anti-inflammatory and are essential to liver, heart, and brain health.
Plants to Enjoy: asparagus; avocado; broccoli; Brussels sprouts; green bell pepper; cucumber; leafy greens; zucchini; limes
Blue & Purple
Benefits: Blue and purple foods can help prevent cancer, strokes, and heart attacks. They also help increase memory function, prevent urinary tract infections, regulate digestion and improve memory.
Plants to Enjoy: Blueberries; grapes; blackberries; purple cabbage; purple onions; eggplant; plums; figs; purple potatoes