Eating the Rainbow: Vegetable Health Benefits by Color

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Eating the Rainbow: Vegetable Health Benefits by Color

(AscendHealthy.com) – Ever hear the saying “eat the rainbow?” (And we’re not talking about Skittles.) This popular advice is given to remind us to include a variety of colorful produce in our diets. The phytonutrients that give vegetables their colors also provide different vitamins and nutrients, so it’s important to consume veggies from every color group to reap all the benefits. Let’s take a look at vegetable health benefits by color.

Quick Read:
“Eating the rainbow” refers to including an array of brightly colored vegetables in our diets. It’s a great way to ensure we are getting enough variety in our diets because each color group offers different vitamins and nutrients. Green, red, yellow and orange, blue and purple and white vegetables all offer different health benefits. Read the full article to learn about why each vegetable color group is so important to include in our diets.

Learn About Vegetable Health Benefits by Color. 

Green Vegetables

Green vegetables pack a powerful punch of essential nutrients, including vitamin K, isoflavones and lutein. Green leafy vegetables like spinach, collard greens and endive are a great source of vitamins A and C, making them perfect for an immune system boost.

They’re also a good source of folate and iron, making them ideal for anemics. Kale is considered to be one of the most nutrient-dense veggies in the world, thanks to its high amounts of vitamins A, C and K.

Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, bok choy and other cruciferous vegetables also offer numerous health benefits. They tend to be high in folate and vitamins C, E and K. They may help reduce inflammation and lower the risk of cancer. Thanks to their high fiber content, they might also aid in weight loss.

Red Vegetables

The phytonutrients that give red vegetables their color offer several benefits, including antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Generally, the deeper the red hue, the richer in phytonutrients the veggie is. Here are some of the healthiest red vegetables and the unique benefits they offer:

  • Beets are one of the most antioxidant-rich vegetables. With their potassium, folate, fiber and vitamin C, the vegetable has been found to lower blood pressure.
  • Tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, which helps lower the risk of certain types of cancer, including prostate.
  • Red onion is a source of organosulfur, a type of phytochemical that improves cholesterol, promotes good immune health and supports the liver.
  • Red bell peppers are rich in vitamins A and C, making them a great immunity booster.
  • Red potatoes contain potassium, thiamin and vitamins C and B6. The red skins contain phytonutrients and are also a great source of fiber.

Yellow and Orange Vegetables

Yellow and orange vegetables are rich in carotenoids, the antioxidant that gives them their flavor and color. The vegetables in this color group are also a good source of fiber, folate, potassium and calcium. The nutrients in these vegetables can help boost immunity, promote good vision, provide cardiovascular benefits and even prevent certain types of cancer.

Some of the vegetables that offer these benefits include carrots, yellow peppers, yellow tomatoes, winter squash, yellow summer squash, butternut squash, sweet corn, rutabagas, sweet potatoes and pumpkin.

Blue and Purple Vegetables

The anthocyanins that give blue and purple vegetables their hue have been linked to numerous health benefits. This group of polyphenols has been linked to reduced inflammation levels, lower blood pressure and memory-boosting benefits.

Eggplant offers other additional benefits. Thanks to its high fiber and low-calorie content, it might help aid in weight loss and might also reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels (the bad cholesterol). It also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, which help promote good eye health.

Purple vegetables tend to be healthier than their other-colored counterparts. Purple potatoes contain four times more antioxidants than Russet potatoes. Purple carrots have double the beta-carotene of orange carrots. Purple sweet potatoes have even been linked to a lower risk of colon cancer. Purple cabbage, on the other hand, is known for its high antioxidant content.

White Vegetables

White vegetables might not be known for their color, but they offer numerous health benefits. Most notably, they can help prevent cancer. Here’s more reason to add white vegetables to the rainbow:

  • Cauliflower and turnips are cruciferous vegetables, offering the same benefits as the green cruciferous vegetables. They also contain glucosinolates, a compound that may assist in lowering the risk of cancer.
  • Mushrooms (especially oyster, maitake and enoki) help strengthen the immune system and also reduce the risk of cancer.
  • Garlic and onion contain polyphenols that may help reduce inflammation and lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.
  • White beans (including navy, Cannellini and great northern) are rich in protein, fiber, iron, potassium and B vitamins. They may also lower the risk of colon cancer and aid in weight loss because of their soluble fiber content.

Each vegetable color group is important to include in our diets. Not only does each vegetable add something unique to the flavor table, but skipping certain colors could cause us to miss out on the health benefits they have to offer. And if it’s true that we also eat with our eyes, then creating meals from a widely varied palette of colors should produce masterpieces.

~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension

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