Red, Blue, Purple
Lycopene provides the red color in tomatoes, watermelon, and red grapefruit. These fruits and vegetables have been associated with a reduced risk of many cancers, especially prostate cancer, and protection against heart attacks. Cooked tomato products like canned tomatoes or tomato juice may be the most protective.
Powerful antioxidants in colorful strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, grapes and raisins are protective against cell damage and offer the advantage of reduced risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease. Additionally, some studies associate blueberries with improved cognition and decreased age-associated memory loss.
Carotenoids provide the orange color in vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, pineapple, mangoes, yellow bell peppers, and yellow squash. These fruits and vegetables are associated with enhanced immune function, improved visual properties and decreased risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, the primary cause of blindness in America. Orange citrus fruits help heal wounds, and contain antioxidants that may help reduce the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer.
Green veggies like asparagus, broccoli and green beans derive their rich green color from a pigment called chlorophyll; chlorophyll masks any orange colors if present, which makes green especially good for you! Dark green veggies like spinach, green bell pepper, and cucumbers help keep your eyes safe from oxidative stress and may help decrease the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. In addition, cruciferous green vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, kale and Brussels sprouts are helpful for prevention of certain types of cancer.
If the emphasis for fruit and vegetable intake is to choose items with deep, rich colors, does that mean foods like mushrooms and onions should be ignored? Quite the contrary; these items are also helpful in reducing blood pressure and cholesterol and may also help to reduce cardiovascular disease and the risk of developing certain types of cancer. Examples of these pale-colored, nutrient-packed vegetables include onions, garlic, bananas, potatoes, and mushrooms.
So next time you’re cruising the produce section at the grocery store be sure to fill your basket with a variety of fruits and vegetables and remember to taste a rainbow … of fruits & veggies!