In produce, each color food carries its own health benefits – so get that variety!
David Heber, MD, PhD wrote a book called What Color Is Your Diet? In it, he goes over the different colors and benefits. (*note – there are a variety of ways different people divide the colors, some combining the below list into fewer color options. But I like Heber’s breakdown, and the reminder to go for a cornucopia of color!)
- White: Usually it is agreed that there is the white color category – that would include things like onion, garlic, chives, and mushroom. Other white/green foods are celery and pears. These foods all contain flavonoids that protect your cell membranes, which helps keep inflammation down and energy up.
- Red: Bold red foods include tomatoes, watermelon, red bell peppers, etc. Think bold bright, leaning more towards pink than purple. These foods are rich in lycopene, which helps fight cancer.
- Darker Orange: carrots, sweet potato, and squash are great for the eyes! All the carotenoids help with night vision, and are also great disease fighters.
- Yellow-Orange: brighter colored oranges such as the orange fruit, nectarines, mango, and papaya are phenomenal sources of Vitamin C – great for the immune system. Since Vitamin C is water-soluble, your body doesn’t hold on to it very well from day to day. So it is important to get vitamin C from food on a daily basis.
- Yellow-Green: corn, spinach, avocado, and peas are part of this group. They are rich in the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. These components are now being linked with eye health and protection from macular degeneration.
- Green: The darker greens – kale, broccoli, chard, kangkong… these are such an important part of health. These are rich in sulforaphane and help stimulate the liver, enhancing your body’s natural detoxing and cleansing processes. They also contain isothicyanate and indoles, which help your body break down cancer-causing chemicals.
- Purple: now you move into foods that are a darker red, such as grapes, berries, and eggplant. They are rich in antioxidants, and the color comes from anthocyanins which helps protect the heart.
So do like Skittles and taste the rainbow; but go for the natural, healthy rainbow instead of the sugary nutritionally-empty rainbow! You’ll find that pot o’ health in the end.