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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Eating A Rainbow – A Colorful Way To Eat Fruits

Fruits and vegetables are an important components of a healthy balanced diet. If we consume them daily in sufficient amounts they could help us prevent many diseases related to heart and certain types of cancers. The World Health Organization recommends eating a at least of 400-500 gm of fruits and vegetables per day to prevent chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and obesity. 

Different colours indicate different nutrients in the food. Pigments and some chemical compounds are responsible for a particular colour of the food. Eg. Red colour of tomatoes is due to lycopene, orange colour of carrots is due to carotene present in it. These compounds add colour to fruits and vegetables and also hold nutritional significance.

Consuming a rainbow of fruits and vegetables helps ensure one gets enough of the different nutrients needed for good health. This is because these colorful fruits and vegetables indicate their different nutrient content.

Listed are the Colors and Their Significance along with the food sources:


The compounds that give green color to the vegetables are called glucosinolates. This compound help ward off cancer by inhibiting carcinogens. Green color of plants is due the presence of a pigment called Chlorophyll which is purifying for the body. Many green foods also contain calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C, Vitamin K, iron and many other antioxidants.

Green foods include

• Artichokes

• Kale, spinach and other leafy greens

• Green apples 

• Sea vegetables 

• Avocados 

• Asparagus 

• Green beans 

• Brussels sprouts 

• Broccoli 

• Cucumbers 

• Green cabbage 

• Green grapes 

• Lettuce 

• Kiwi fruit 

• Limes 

• Green onions 

• Peas 

• Zucchini


Red foods contain ellagic acid, lycopene, Quercetin, and Hesperidin. These food nutrients reduce the risk of prostate cancer, lower blood pressure, reduce the growth of tumors and also the reduces LDL cholesterol levels. These compounds also scavenge free-radicals that are harmful, and support joint tissue in arthritis cases.

Red foods include

• Tomatoes

• Beets 

• Radishes 

• Red cabbage 

• Cranberries 

• Cherries 

• Red grapes 

• Pink grapefruit 

• Red peppers 

• Pomegranates 

• Red potatoes 

• Watermelon 

• Raspberries 

• Red apples 

• Strawberries


The phytochemicals responsible for orange colour in fruits and vegetables such as mango, carrots, or pumpkin, are carotenoids α- y β-carotene. These Carotenoids may help improve your immunity and lower the risk of heart diseases, vision problem and several types cancer. Beta-carotene is a carotenoid which the body uses to create vitamin A. Folate, bromium, potassium and vitamin C are also often found in orange fruits and vegetables.

Orange foods include: 

• Yams and sweet potatoes

• Carrots 

• Apricots 

• Butternut squash 

• Cantaloupe 

• Grapefruit 

• Lemons 

• Mangoes 

• Nectarines 

• Oranges and Tangerines 

• Papayas 

• Peaches 

• Pears 


The flavonoids, are the largest group of phenolic compounds, they together with β-cryptoxanthin are responsible for the light yellow to orange colour of fruits like peach, orange or papaya. Dietary flavonoids possess anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antihistamine and antioxidant properties. These compounds are reported to inhibit lipid peroxidation, scavenge free radicals, and to modulate cell signalling pathways. Production of free radicals and peroxides has been linked to aging, cancer, ischemic injuries, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Flavonoids protect LDL cholesterol from being oxidized, thus preventing the formation of plaques in the arterial wall.

Yellow foods include: 

• Yams and sweet potatoes

• Yellow apples 

• Peaches

• Butternut squash 

• Cantaloupe 

• Lemons 

• Mangoes 

• Lemons

• Papayas 

• Yellow peppers 

• Persimmons 

• Pineapple 

• Pumpkin 

• Yellow winter or summer squash 

• Yellow tomatoes

• Sweet corn 

Blue, Indigo, Violet: 

Blue, indigo and violet foods contain the compound anthocyanins that not only give color to the foods but also have been shown to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and increase the health of heart. Anthocyanins possess antioxidant properties that help limit the damage caused to the body cells by free radicals and may also lower your risk for stroke, heart disease, cancer, macular degeneration (vision loss) and memory problems.

Foods in this part of the rainbow include:

• Blackberries 

• Blueberries

• Purple grapes 

• Figs 

• Plums, fresh and dried (prunes)

• Raisins 

• Eggplant

White, Tan and Brown:

White fruits and vegetables get their color from the polyphenol compounds with their antioxidant properties called anthoxanthins, which are known to lower your risk of cancer and heart disease. Some white foods, like garlic contains a compound called allicin, which is known to lower the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol and cancer. These foods may also be good sources of vitamin C, potassium, folate, riboflavin and niacin. A study published in November 2011 in "Stroke" found that consuming more white fruits and vegetables may lower your risk for strokes. Tan and brown foods like garlic, onions, and mushrooms may promote heart health and reduce the risk of cancer.

Here are options for adding more of these colors to your diet:

• Bananas

• Onions 

• Cauliflower 

• Garlic 

• Ginger 

• Mushrooms 

• Potatoes 

• Parsnips 

• Turnips

• White corns

• White Nectarines

• Dates

• Brown pears

• Cheeku


Black colored fruits are becoming very popular in the recent years due to their high nutritive value for human health. These fruits are rich in vitamins, calcium, iron, selenium, zinc and other materials and also possess anti-cancer, anti-oxidation and anti-aging properties. Recent studies showed that black fruits show a black color in their skin because they are rich in pigments such as Proanthocyanidins and chlorophyll. In comparison with the light colored fruits, these pigments have a strong antioxidant property which can effectively increase the body’s resistance to bacteria. In addition, these black fruit are rich source of minerals like potassium, calcium and magnesium which play a vital role in the maintenance of nutritional balance of the human body.

Black Foods include:

• Mulberry

• Black Grapes 

• Elder Berries

• Black Berries

• Black Currants

• Dried plums

The popular phrase "eating a rainbow" of fruits and vegetables is a very simple way of remembering to get variety of color in your diet as possible, so that you can maximize your intake of a wide range of nutrients. The colors of vegetables and fruits are a small clue as to what vitamins and nutrients are included in that particular food. By getting a variety of different colored fruits and vegetables, one is sure of getting a diverse amount of essential vitamins and minerals in their diet.

It is advised to go Organic to gain maximum nutrients from a fruit. To know more about Organic Foods click here.

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