Learn more about SCL Health's Nutrition and Weight Loss and Bariatrics services.
Like that action-packed superhero movie or those fresh spring flowers, some things are just better in color. And your diet is no different. Packing your plate with a variety of colorful fruits and veggies is a proven way to arm your immune system with powerful nutrients. Ready? Let’s dig a little deeper.
It’s All About Those Phytochemicals
Phytochemicals are actually just naturally occurring compounds found in plant foods. They are responsible for giving your favorite fruits and vegetables their signature colors and packing them full of nutrients that can prevent disease and fight inflammation. In fact, the most vibrant plant foods are often the richest in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. James Roche, Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist at St. Mary’s Medical Center, confirms that “phytonutrients, antioxidants, and fiber play very important roles in prevention of a number of diseases. Fiber and a high water content in fruits and vegetables also curb our appetite by filling our stomach and intestines, signaling to our brain that we are full.”
Your Color-Coded Guide to a Nutrient-Dense Diet
Each color of food contains a unique set of phytochemicals. Which means each color also contains a unique set of benefits. Basically, you can think of a food’s color as Mother Nature’s way of telling you what’s inside (thanks, Mother Nature!). Let’s break it down:
- Red: Red fruits and veggies like tomatoes, radishes, strawberries, and cherries help support the brain and circulatory system, and keep cholesterol levels healthy.
- Orange + Yellow: Opt for carrots, sweet potatoes, peaches, and pineapple for an instant immunity boost, plus some extra protection for your eyes and bones.
- Green: Green means go for better digestion and reduced inflammation. Eat veggies like broccoli, spinach, and brussel sprouts, and choose fruit like kiwi, lime, or green apples.
- Purple + Blue: Eating eggplant, purple cabbage, blackberries, and blueberries, can help lower the risk of cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Purple and blue foods have also been linked to improved memory and healthy aging.
- White: Choose white foods like potatoes, cauliflower, bananas, and white peaches to help lower bad cholesterol and high blood pressure, as well as minimize the risk of certain cancers.
V is for Variety
Imagine only ever watching the same movie, every day, three times a day. Things would get boring, right? And just think of all the good references you’d miss out on! Point is, in both pop culture, and nutrition, variety is just more fun. Eating a variety of colors each day, assures that you don’t miss out on important nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. James Roche adds, “Antioxidants are primarily responsible for reducing inflammation and these mainly come from vitamins A, C and E. Most vegetables contain large quantities and therefore, are highly anti-inflammatory.”
We hope that by now, you see phytochemicals a little less like a monster in a sci-fi and a little more like a best friend in a rom-com. Because when it comes to good nutrition, phytochemicals will always have your back.