When determining the importance of a food in the diet, nutrients are often the only elements considered, whereas, in reality, there are other known food components called “non-nutrients” that are of enormous interest in regards to health, for example food colors. In some cases they have important physiological properties and are therefore considered bioactive substances. These substances are called “phytochemicals” when they are found in plants. Among these phytochemicals, some stand out because, in addition to having beneficial properties, they give pigmentation. The colors of the food are the resultant.
The products that Mother Nature gives us are wonderful, but we do not have easy access to know what are the benefits we gain when we eat them. It would be really extraordinary if the shelves of vegetables and fruits in the supermarket, indicated us what are the benefits that we would obtain for our body if we consume them, especially when we want to eat well and healthy.
The influence of food colors on health
But if the supermarket does not give us that information, we can start doing the research, and it is very simple if we use a relationship to learn about the properties of natural foods, and as we mentioned above, it is through the colors of their phytochemicals. It is through this pigmentation that we can know in which family of nutrients fruits and vegetables are grouped and thus be able to make our more conscious choices to design a diet according to our health requirements. That is why we have prepared this information to give you an approach to the nutritional components according to the colors of the food :
1. Red color in food
The color red in food is often used in most restaurants, as it stimulates the appetite . In the case of food, red stands for lycopene , and it is known to reduce the risk of acquiring certain types of cancer such as prostate cancer . Fruits and vegetables that have this color also have folate and vitamin C, including flavonoids that are known to reduce inflammation. Increase your consumption of tomatoes, guavas (red), watermelon, red pepper, and pink grapefruit. Also blueberries , although their red pigmentation is not due to lycopene, but to anthocyanins . This fruit contains tannins that prevent bacteria from adhering to the cell walls.
2. Green color in fruits and vegetables
You can keep your eyes healthy by eating lots of vegetables that contain high amounts of lutein. Lutein helps prevent macular degeneration as well as cataracts . What’s even better is that other green cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and kale can also help flush out toxins in the body that can cause cancer . Adding more greens to your food means that you are also increasing your intake of vitamin K, potassium, omega-3 fatty acids , folic acid, and carotenoids. People with high blood pressure should include green leafy vegetables in their diet as they can help lower blood pressure.
3. Yellow / orange
Carrots, squash, apricots, sweet potatoes, melons and mangoes are fruits and vegetables with yellow or orange pigmentation. When you see these colors, yellow or orange, they are a good indication that the product contains beta-carotene , which, in addition to improving the health of the eyes, can also help to stimulate the immune system . Swiss chard and spinach are also full of beta-carotene, but due to the high amounts of chlorophyll , the green color became more pronounced.
You are probably avoiding all white stuff ( white poisons ) when shopping for groceries such as refined sugar and white bread because they are not good for your health, but you do make an exception when it comes to vegetables . White vegetables and legumes such as onion, chives, garlic, leeks, and cauliflower contain allicin that are known for their ability to fight cancer, improve cardiovascular health, and reduce the risk of acquiring bacterial and viral infections.
5. Blue / purple
For those who want to maintain their youthful glow, go for the darker colors. Fresh products that come in darker shades like deep purple or blue are high in anthocyanins , which is a type of antioxidant that increases circulation, improves brain health, not to mention stop any signs of aging. These tones in vegetables and fruits are also useful in the fight against cancer, including any type of heart problem, as they prevent any clot formation. The cranberries, plums, blackberries, red grapes, red cabbage and include it in your diet if you want to look younger beyond your years .
Although many health enthusiasts suggest consuming foods that are within a specific color, it is still best to go for a wide range of colors when it comes to your fruits and vegetables to reap the most benefits. It is not yet clear how much vegetable or fruit of a specific color should be consumed to obtain a certain amount of antioxidants or flavonoids. This is why going on a diet with as much color as possible is highly recommended rather than limiting your food choices to certain colors.
Now that you know the health benefits you can get from certain nuances, you can be as creative as you want when you’re in the kitchen. Prepare meals where the colors mentioned above can be incorporated to enjoy healthy and delicious food.
Prepare this multicolored salad and take advantage of the delicious flavor and nutrients of green, red and yellow peppers.
Multicolored bell pepper salad
- 4 bell peppers (red, green, yellow and orange colors, cut in half, seeds and stems removed)
- 1/4 cup good quality black olives
- 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes in oil (rinsed and chopped)
- 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- a bunch of parsley, finely chopped
Grill the peppers over medium-high heat, turning once, until soft and charred in spots, about 5 minutes on each side. When cool enough to handle, chop the peppers, add the olives, sundried tomatoes, oil, vinegar, parsley, and salt to a large bowl.
Tips and Notes
Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Per serving: 107 calories; 7 g of fat; cholesterol 0 mg; 10 g of carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 1 g of protein; 2 g of fiber; 330 mg of sodium; 331 mg of potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (200% of the daily value)