When it comes to healthy eating, so much advice seems to center on what not to put in our mouths that it’s easy to forget that there’s a whole world of foods out there that are great for you!
One group of such foods are those rich in phytonutrients (“phyto” meaning “plant”), naturally-occurring pigments that lend color to fruits and vegetables. There are more than 25,000 phyonutrients found in plants, and many have astounding health benefits.
Different colors offers different benefits, which is why it’s so important to eat the spectrum! (Though, admittedly, there is some crossover of phytonutrients.) Here’s a quick rundown of those you can enjoy this summer and one of the benefits each color offers. In a future article, we’ll go more into depth about the benefit of each of these nutrients.
Red: Lycopene, ellagic acid, hesperidin, and anthocyanin.
Potential benefits include: Lowered cholesterol, reduced risk of heart disease, improved circulation, reduced inflammation, improved endurance and athletic performance, and better digestion.
In season: Apples, cherries, chili peppers, pink grapefruit, radishes, red apples, red bell peppers, red cabbage, strawberries, tomatoes, and watermelon.
Orange/Yellow: Beta-carotene, alpha-carotenoids, hesperetin, beta-cryptoxanthin, and lutein.
Potential benefits include: Boosted immune system, healthy eyes, reduced risk of macular degeneration, stronger bones, reduced inflammation response.
In season: Apricots, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, mangoes, melon, nectarines, peaches, and summer squash.
Blue/Purple: Anthocyanins, betanin, vulgaxanthin, flavonoids, lutein, and resveratrol.
Potential benefits include: Improved memory, healthier aging, boosted immune system, and antioxidant protection.
In season: Blackberries, blueberries, eggplant, figs, grapes, huckleberries, marionberries, and plums.
Green: Chlorophyll, lutein, zeaxanthin, indoles, isothiocyanate, flavonoids, and sulforaphane.
Potential benefits include: Eye health, cancer prevention, reduced inflammation, and better digestion.
In season: Chard, cilantro, cucumbers, green beans, green onions, lemongrass, limes, okra, peas, spinach, and zucchini.
Make it a goal to sample from each color daily and get as innovative with your recipes as your imagination will allow! You could also try this yummy rainbow salad!