What’s your favorite color? Do you prefer the bold hues of red, orange, and yellow? Or are you drawn to the serene and calming shades of blue, green, and purple? Color is a key player in many choices that we make from the decision of which shirt to wear in the morning to which car to buy. But, do you ever pay attention to the color foods that you eat? Do you dress your plate in a colorful palate of fruits and vegetables at each meal, or do the various foods blend together? Variety is important in the types of foods we choose to put in our mouths, and mixing up the color choices of the foods we eat help to ensure that we take in the necessary nutrients we need to keep moving throughout the day.
Most green foods are nicknamed “super foods” because they are great sources of vitamin K, Iron and zinc. Many green foods are also known for the antioxidants they contain, like vitamin C, vitamin E, and lutein. Antioxidants are chemicals that deactivate free radicals in our bodies. High levels of free radicals, which are not controlled by antioxidants, can cause damage to the cells that make up the body. Also, lutein has been found to be important for eye health, and can help guard your eyes from macular degeneration as you age.
Green foods to try: Swiss chard, spinach, green pepper, kale, cucumber, celery, asparagus, broccoli, collard greens, green beans, kohlrabi, avocado, brussel sprouts, okra, mustard greens, limes, artichokes, bok choy, pears, pistachios.
Yellow foods share many qualities with green foods, including lutein. They are also filled with vitamin C. Yellow foods are universally healthy, bringing positive nutrients for heart, digestion, and immunity health.
Yellow foods to try: Bananas, butternut squash, cantaloupe, lemon, grapefruit, pineapple, corn, apples, beets, peppers, pears, spaghetti squash.
Red foods are excellent sources of vitamin C, folate, flavonoids, and tannins. These are all key players in anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant diets. These nutrients also help to stop bacteria from latching on to cells in the body. Cranberries, cherries, and pomegranates, along with other red foods, attribute their red color to a phytochemical called anthocyanin, which is also an anti-inflammatory agent. Beets, get their coloring from betanin, another phytochemical, which helps strengthen immunity.
Red foods to try: Peppers, tomatoes, radishes, beets, cherries, cranberries, raspberries, strawberries, apples, watermelon, red potatoes, pomegranates, guava, grapefruit.
Orange foods are very rich in beta-carotene. This anti-oxidant is responsible for the brilliant colors of the foods in this section of the color wheel. Beta-carotene is also a pre-cursor for vitamin A which is a nutrient beneficial to eye health, particularly night vision. A common nutrient that is often associated with orange food is vitamin C, which helps maintain a healthy immune system, heart, and collagen in the skin.
Orange foods to try: Oranges, carrots, mangoes, nectarines, papayas, peaches, persimmons, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, orange peppers.
Foods with blue and purple hues are also high in anthocyanin, and therefore, great for anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant processes. The darker the purple or blue color, the more anthocyanin found in that food. These foods also have a tendency to be high in Vitamin C, flavonoids, and fiber. These foods tend to hit low on the radar when it comes to meal plans, so take a look at the list below, and try to work these into your diet.
Blue/purple foods to try: Blackberries, blueberries, plums, eggplants, grapes, prunes, purple potatoes, cabbage, asparagus, currants, raisins, elderberries.
White foods are very high in soluble fiber that helps to keep you feeling full longer and can also help to lower blood cholesterol levels. They are also big players in the anti-oxidant, anti-inflammation, and detoxification game, helping to fend off diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. White foods are also great sources of vitamins. For example, cabbage contains vitamin K, vitamin C, and vitamin B6.
White foods to try: Cauliflower, garlic, ginger, mushrooms, onions, shallots, turnips, parsnips, potatoes.
So, colorful displays aren’t just for artwork or flower arrangements. Try to get 2-4 colors of foods at each meal you eat to add not only variety for your palate, but also for your sources of nutrients.
If you ever have any questions or would like more information on anything I discuss in this forum, don’t hesitate to contact me. Our office phone number is 636-244-5223, and our e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading.
Abby Scheer, D.C.