We should aim for 2-4 servings of fruit and 3-5 servings of vegetables per day, according to the USDA's Food Guide Pyramid. The type of those fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, is rarely mentioned. The various nutrients in these foods, in fact, are what give them their distinct color. So, let's look at what the different colors of fruits and vegetables mean.
A blue to purple hue can be found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, including eggplant, blueberries, plums, and raisins. The color blue or purple comes from phytonutrients called anthocyanins (a flavonoid) found in these foods. These phytonutrients are produced by plants to protect themselves from insect attacks and UV light damage. These phytonutrients are also beneficial to our health and the prevention of diseases. Obesity control has also been shown to be effective in studies. Carotenoids, Vitamin C, Fiber, and ellagic acid are also found in this group. All of these are anti-cancer and antioxidant agents.
The green pigment Chlorophyll is responsible for the color of spinach, broccoli, wheatgrass, kale, and Brussel sprouts, to name a few. This pigment is known to absorb red and blue light while reflecting the rest, which is mostly green. As a result, these items appear to be green. Chlorophyll has long been associated with human health and disease prevention. Lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids found in green foods, are also present. In the eyes and skin of humans, carotenoids act as antioxidants.
The presence of lycopene, a carotenoids compound, is responsible for the red color of some fruits and vegetables. Tomatoes, apples, strawberries, beets, and pomegranates are examples of red fruits and vegetables. Lycopene has been found to reduce the risk of prostate, pancreatic, and stomach cancers to some extent. Lycopene is thought to protect against oxidation damage, which is caused by UV light and tobacco smoke.
Carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin give yellow and orange fruits and vegetables their color. Antioxidants like Vitamin A and C are also present. These beneficial substances are abundant in oranges, mangoes, yellow peppers, lemons, pineapples, and pumpkin.
Bell peppers (or Capsicum Annuum) start green and ripen to yellow, orange, and red after spending more time on the plant. As a result, the red, orange, and yellow varieties are usually more costly. Lutein and zeaxanthin carotenoids are well-known for their role in age-related macular degeneration (AMD, or age-related vision blurring) and cataracts.
White fruits and vegetables are a good source of key nutrients (especially fiber, potassium, and magnesium) as well as other micro constituents. The health benefits of white-colored foods should not be overlooked, as they can contribute to nutrient deficiencies in our diet. Potatoes, cauliflowers, turnips, corn, parsnips, mushrooms, and onions, to name a few, all fall into this category.
The presence of various phytochemicals gives fruits and vegetables their distinct color. Various nutrients are present in various foods in varying amounts. To get a combination of health benefits, make sure that your daily diet includes as many colored fruits and vegetables as possible.