By eating fruits and vegetables of a variety of different colors, one can get the best all-around health benefits. Each different color fruit and vegetables contains unique health components that are essential to our health.
What they contain: Lycopene (a carotenoid) and anthocyanins (a flavonoid) are two of the main pigments that give fruit and vegetables a red colour. Many of these also provide good amounts of vitamin C.
Why they are good for you: Tomatoes, watermelon, guava and pink grapefruit are a good source of lycopene, which may help protect against some cancers, especially prostate cancer. We absorb lycopene more easily when foods have been heated, so processed tomatoes are better than raw. Fat, such as olive oil or cheese, also helps enhance absorption. Anthocyanins, found in red fruits, may help fight cancer, keep the heart healthy, improve vision and memory and avoid urinary tract infections.
What they contain: Green fruit and veg are coloured by a pigment called chlorophyll. Many are good sources of two carotenoids called lutein and zeaxanthin, plus they contain phytochemicals such as indoles and glucosinolates and nutrients such as beta-carotene, folate, iron and calcium.
Why they are good for you: Research shows that lutein and zeaxanthin act as ‘natural’ sunglasses and filter out harmful light that can damage the eyes. A good intake of these antioxidants may help prevent age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness, and may help protect against cataracts. Green vegetables may also help protect against cancer.
What they contain: Purple and blue fruits and vegetables are coloured by phytochemicals called anthocyanins. Many of these foods also contain ellagic acid and proanthocyanidins.
Why they are good for you: Anthocyanins may help to keep the heart healthy and reduce the risk of strokes, while ellagic acid may help to protect against cancer. Good intakes of anthocyanins have also been linked to improving balance, co-ordination and short-term memory in old age, as well as better vision, although more research needs to be carried out to confirm these findings. Research shows that proanthocyanidins may help to protect against urinary tract infections.
What they contain: As well as being a good source of vitamin C, yellow and orange fruits contain carotenoids such as beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin.
Why they are good for you: With the exception of citrus fruits and pineapple, most yellow and orange foods are packed with beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A – good for vision in dim light and maintaining the skin and cells that line the airways and the digestive and urinary tracts.