Pack Your Plate with Color

0915_Salad_webThe bright colors of fruits and vegetables are not only appealing to the eye; they also have fundamental health benefits. There are three main types of pigment that give fruits and vegetable their rich hues:

  • Carotenoids (orange and yellow)
  • Flavonoids (blue, red, and cream)
  • Chlorophyll (green)

These colorful compounds provide health and nutrition benefits. Pack your plate with colorful fruits and veggies, and reap the healthy rewards!

  • Red: Red fruits and vegetables contain vitamin A (beta carotene) and vitamin C, and are typically high in manganese and fiber. Choose red bell peppers, tomatoes, cherries, cranberries, raspberries, rhubarb, pomegranates, and beets. Red apples also contain quercetin, a compound that seems to fight colds, the flu, and allergies.  
  • Orange: Orange fruits and vegetables have a similar vitamin and mineral profile as the red varieties, such as vitamins C, A, and B6, potassium, and fiber. Choose items such as butternut squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupes, oranges, pumpkins, orange peppers, nectarines, and peaches.
  • Yellow: Banana is probably the first yellow fruit that comes to mind-and it packs a punch with potassium and fiber. Other nutrients you'll find in yellow fruits and vegetables include manganese, vitamin A, and magnesium. Think spaghetti squash, summer squash, and yellow bell peppers.
  • Green: Dark, leafy greens are packed with nutrients. Spinach is rich in lutein, which aids eyesight, and folate, which supports cell reproduction. Other nutrient-dense greens include: avocado, sugar snap peas, green peas, broccoli, asparagus, green grapes, okra, and zucchini.
  • Blue: Blueberries, one of nature's most powerful antioxidants, are loaded with fiber and make an incredibly versatile addition to your diet. Eat them by the handful, sprinkle them on cereal, or add them to salads for a different and delicious taste.
  • Purple: This group includes vegetables like red onions and eggplant, and fruits such as blackberries, Concord grapes, currants, and plums. Purple indicates the presence of anthocyanins-powerful antioxidants that protect blood vessels and preserve healthy skin. You can also find vitamin A and flavonoids in purple vegetables like radicchio, purple cabbage, purple potatoes, and purple carrots.
  • White: White may not be much of a color, but white vegetables, such as cauliflower, rutabagas, and parsnips, still shine with nutrients like vitamins C, K, and folate, and they contain fiber. Don't forget onions and garlic, which contain allicin, and may protect the heart and blood vessels from damage.

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Last updated 4/1/2015