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Check out this great guest post and infographic from Made with Foods discussing the amazing benefits of consuming a variety of different colored fruits and vegetables.

Ever heard you should “eat the rainbow”? Choosing a colorful array of fruits and vegetables can help create a visually pleasing plate, but there are more compelling reasons to eat a variety of hues. A broad selection of colors helps ensure that you also consume a wide variety of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, which are essential for good health.

Here’s a closer look at what the colors of produce mean, and why you should include them in your diet.

Phytonutrients are naturally occurring substances that are found in plants and produce different colors. Researchers have found that they have myriad health-boosting benefits. Lycopene is one of the most well-known phytonutrients and produces a red color. It is found in grapefruit, pink guava, tomatoes, and tomato products such as tomato paste and tomato sauce. Lycopene has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties; may help reduce your risk of cancer; and might help mitigate your risk of damage to the skin caused by the sun.

The phytonutrients in carrots help support eye health. They also have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Alpha carotene, beta carotene and beta cryptoxanthin are all carotenoids that create an orange or yellow color and are found in vegetables such as carrots, corn, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, winter squash and yellow peppers. Fruits containing carotenoids include banana, pineapple and tangerines.

Several phytonutrients produce the color green, including chlorophyll, glucosinolates, indoles and isothiocyanates. These are found in green leafy vegetables such as green cabbage, kale and spinach as well as asparagus, avocados, Brussels sprouts and green herbs. Like all phytochemicals, they help combat inflammation and oxidative damage and help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer.

Blue and purple fruits and vegetables contain anthocyanins — a class of phytochemicals that are associated with numerous important health benefits. They appear to have a protective effect against some neurological disorders as well as helping maintain cognitive function. They may also make you less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes as well as some forms of cancers. Fruits and vegetables containing anthocyanins include blackberries, blueberries, Concord grapes, eggplants, elderberries, plums, and purple and red cabbage.

Dark red fruits and veggies such as beets and prickly pears include betalains, which appear to have cardiovascular benefits and may also help improve oxygen intake to enhance athletic performance as well as anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Allicin is a phytonutrient that produces white and brown colors and is found in cauliflower, garlic, leeks, mushrooms, onions, parsnips and white potatoes. In addition to cardiovascular benefits, these vegetables may help reduce your risk of colon cancer and some other cancers. The accompanying resource describes more about these benefits.

Graphic created by MadeWith Foods

I would love to hear your feedback on this guest post from Made with Foods.

Wishing you a happy, healthy week ahead!

Ricci-Lee Hotz, MS, RDN

Denver’s Dancing Dietitian

A Taste of Health, LLC

“Improving Quality of life one bite at a time”