How Fruit & Veggie Color Affects Your Health
When you think of fruits and vegetables, the first thing that comes to mind may be their vibrant colors. You may also be familiar with catchphrases like â€śeat the rainbowâ€ť and â€ścolor your plate,â€ť or may already cook with recipes that use fruits and veggies to add color or provide an attractive garnish.
How do vegetables get their colors? The answer is, theyâ€™re given these brilliant hues by nature! Many of these natural pigments are water soluble, so when handling or washing your veggies, you may notice them sharing their colors with your hands, water or countertop. It isnâ€™t some sort of added dye â€“ just all-natural goodness.
The natural pigments responsible for the color of produce are divided into several broad categories. Within each category, individual compounds may contribute to aspects of human health. These compounds are known as phytochemicals. Remember to eat across the categories for the most benefit!
Green vegetables (green beans, Brussels sprouts, spinach) contain chlorophyll and lutein pigments. Chlorophyll and lutein can help support healthy vision and protect cells from damage.
Yellow and Orange
Yellow and orange fruits and vegetables (butternut squash, carrots, cantaloupe) contain carotenoid pigments. Carotenoids are precursors to vitamin A, which is important for eyesight, healthy skin and mucus membranes, as well as immune function.
Red, Purple and Blue
These fruits and vegetables (blueberries, purple cabbage, blackberries) contain anthocyanin pigments. These pigments may help maintain the health of your heart, support memory function and protect cells from damage.
Purplish-red fruits and vegetables (beets) contain betalain pigments. Betalains can have antioxidant properties, especially for protecting against LDL (bad cholesterol).
White vegetables (cauliflower, onions, jicama) contain anthoxanthin pigments. Anthoxanthins may contribute to heart health.