Everyone knows you should eat your fruits and vegetables, but did you know that you should be eating different colored fruits and vegetables every day? The different colors represent the most abundant phytonutrients in that particular food and will help you fight disease and stay healthy. Now each serving of fruit/vegetable has hundreds of phytonutrients so the greater the variety and quantity we consume the better our body is able to repair, regenerate, defend, and detoxify itself. Even the best multivitamin will not provide you with this amount of benefit.
Here are some of the phytonutrients and the benefits by color:
- Lycopene – may protect against cancers of the prostate, breast and skin, and reduce the risk of heart attacks. Tomatoes are rich in this.
- Anthocyanins – help reduce the risk of cancer and protect the heart and brain. This is found in red berries (strawberry, raspberry, cherries, cranberries), beets, cabbage, apples (with skin), onions, kidney beans, and red beans.
- Beta carotene – this phytonutrient is converted to vitamin A in your body which is important in promoting healthy vision, immune and inflammatory systems, cell growth, reproduction, and bone health. Carrots are an example.
- Bioflavonoids – work together with vitamin C to reduce the risk of heart attacks and cancer, and helps maintain strong bones/teeth, health skin, and good vision. Examples include oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, clementines, peaches, and nectarines.
- Lutein and zeaxanthin – both help maintain healthy vision and prevent macular degeneration. Think of bananas, golden delicious apples, yellow bell peppers, lemons, corn, and ginger root.
- Glucosinolates – are found in cruciferous vegetables and are turned into isothiocyanates which help regulate how estrogen is metabolized in the body and reduce the risk of estrogen/hormone related cancers such as breast and uterine cancer.
- Phytosterols – block the absorption of cholesterol from food in the gut and help reduce LDL cholesterol. Good sources included avocado, lettuce, and olive oil.
- Catechins – these are the bitter compounds found in green tea and help reduce cell damage.
Blue / Purple / Black
- Resveratrol – reduces inflammation and blood sugar and is beneficial for the cardiovascular system. This is found in grapes (skin) and grape products.
- Pterostilbene – may help in fighting cancer, keeping cholesterol low, and preserving cognition. It may be found in blueberries and grapes.
White / tan / brown
- Allicin – has anti-cancer and blood pressure lowering effects. Garlic is an example.
- Lignans – have anti-inflammatory properties, promote healthy blood vessels, and have anti-cancer effects. Foods such as flax and sesame seeds are rich in this.