At some point growing up you have probably heard your parents or grandparents encourage you to eat your fruits and veggies, and to eat a variety of colors to get good nutrition. There is definitely a reason for this advice. Plants contain compounds called phytochemicals, meaning plant chemicals, which give the fruit or vegetable its pigment. These compounds function as antioxidants, meaning they protect the plant from environmental damage. When we ingest these plants, we reap the cell-protective benefits as well.
Each color of fruits and vegetables has unique benefits to emotional, physical and mental health. So eating the rainbow really can keep you healthy. Note the following colors and their unique compounds and health benefits:
Red Group: Contains phytonutrients called lycopene, ellagic acid and anthocyanins. Lycopene intake has been associated with decreased risks of cancer, especially prostate cancer. Ellagic acid reduces cell DNA damage, preventing reducing the risk of cancer. Anthocyanins are powerful antioxidants associated with heart health.
Orange/Yellow Group: Contains carotenoids and beta-cryptothanxin. High amounts of carotenoids in the diet may help reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and improve immune function. They are important for healthy skin, eyes and cell growth and development.
Green Group: Contains leutein that may reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts. They also contain folate, which helps reduce the risk of birth defects.
Blue/Purple Group: This group contains anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants, like the red group that prevents cancer development, improves brain function and inhibits depression and anxiety.
White Group: The white group contains anthoxanthins, which may reduce cholesterol levels and blood pressure, reduce the risk of stomach cancer and heart disease.
Fruits and vegetables are also a great source of dietary fiber. Fiber adds bulk to your diet, slowing the digestion of food, which helps reduce hunger and keep you feeling full longer. It is also important in keeping you regular, removing toxins and waste from the body. Fiber even helps lower bad cholesterol levels.
Try incorporating a variety of colors when it comes to fresh produce… berries, bell peppers and greens; there are so many options. And you ladies out there will be happy to know that colorful fruits and vegetables provide just what your cells need to keep your hair, skin and nails vibrant, luscious, smooth, silky and firm. Antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and E, along with minerals and phytonutrients, are essential for healthy hair follicles, collagen production, reducing wrinkles and dark circles under eyes, adding luster and shine to hair, smooth, strong nails, etc.
Don’t forget to add some healthy fats like avocado and olive oil to your diet to keep your hair and skin from becoming dry and flaky, especially with the cold weather around the corner.