A colorful diet leads to healthy living

Gardens, farmers markets, and stores are benefiting from the wide variety of fruits and vegetables available during summer months. And summertime brings the best colors of produce.

No fruit or vegetable has the same mix of vitamins and minerals. By eating different fruits and vegetables (in a variety of colors), we are more likely to meet our vitamin and mineral needs.

Eating with color makes eating enjoyable

Have you heard that old adage “we eat with our eyes”? Eating food is not just about nutrition; it’s also about enjoyment. Adding many colors of fruits and vegetables to your recipes can be very pleasing to look at and make eating more fun. This is a great way to encourage kids to try new foods.

Different colors adds variety

You’ve probably seen tomatoes in shades of red, yellow, orange, and even purple. How about the orange and purple varieties of cauliflower? Or the yellow, purple, and white colored carrots? Often these color variations do not change the taste, so a purple carrot tastes mostly the same as an orange carrot. When you’re shopping, pick up a color you don’t normally buy, just to try it.

Miixing up of colors can make meals enjoyable and fun.

Colors and nutrients

Many fruits and vegetables get their color from naturally occurring micronutrients. The vitamins that come from these foods are essential for healthy habits.

Fruits and vegetables come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors. Did you know that certain natural colors of foods carry specific health benefits?

Some plants carry phytochemicals that are responsible for these health benefits. We can break the phytochemicals down by color.

Red foods contain lycopene which is beneficial for the heart and prevents the risk of stroke. Orange and yellow foods contain carotenoids which helps our immune system and decreases inflammation. Green foods contain lutein which keeps our bones, teeth, and nails strong as well as protects our eyes by preventing cataracts.

Blue and purple foods contain anthocyanins which help with memory and reduce blood pressure. White and tan foods contain allicin which helps with lowering cholesterol and blood pressure levels. It also keeps our bones strong.

These are just a few benefits that can be found with each phytochemical. Some benefits can overlap or be seen with multiple colors

SOURCES: University of Illinois Extension, Purdue University Extension)(