Fruits and vegetables come in all shades of vibrant colors—green, orange, red, yellow and more—that will make your plate and palette pop. But did you know that each color offers health benefits as well?
Plants contain phytochemicals which protect them from things like UV rays and garden villains. These same phytochemicals help boost our immune system when consumed and have been shown to act as free radical scavengers. Here is a short list of vegetables with some of their benefits.
- Tomatoes and red bell peppers: their bright red color comes from lycopene, a carotene and caratenoid pigment. Lycopene has been considered a potential agent for prevention of some types of cancer, such as prostate cancer.
- Carrots and winter squash: their vibrant orange color comes from beta carotene, which can be converted to active vitamin A. The phytochemicals found in orange and yellow vegetables may help lower the risk of some forms of cancer, as well as help vision and heart and immune systems.
- Broccoli: its green comes from indole-3 carbinol (I3C), a compound that occurs naturally in broccoli and other green vegetables such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, turnips, and more. I3C has been shown to inhibit the development of cancers of the breast, colon, liver, lung and stomach in some animals.
- Eggplant: it’s chock-full of anthocyanins, water-soluble vacuolar pigments that belong to the parent class of molecules called flavonoids. These anthocyanins have been shown to protect cell membranes from damage.
So much potential in small packages! The next time you eat your favorite fruit or vegetable look at its color and think about the health benefits that may come from eating it. There’s so much to appreciate and more there than meets the eye!