If you don’t eat your food as medicine, then medicine will become your food. This is but a very simple statement carrying a lot of weight. The human diet has complex requirements. And perfecting it for optimum health is a bit nightmarish. However, we must strive for a healthier body. A healthier body leads to a healthier and happier life. This is the core concept behind discussing coloured fruits and vegetables and their health benefits.
The colour of food represents a unique set of phytochemicals present in the food. And for each unique colour and phytochemical, there is a unique health benefit. This means each differently coloured food is rich in different bioactive compounds. And these provide you with different health benefits. Let’s look at coloured fruits and vegetables and their health benefits.
Coloured fruits and vegetables and their health benefits
Also read: Eating The Rainbow Is Better Than Just Eating Vegetables
1. Orange coloured fruits and vegetables for your reproductive health
Orange coloured fruits and vegetables share common characteristics with red ones. This is concerning their ability to fight oxidative disorders and stress in the body. The main difference between red and orange coloured fruits and vegetables is in the carotenoids responsible for their colours.
Orange coloured fruits and vegetables are rich in carotenoids. Carotenoids are powerful compounds some of which have provitamin A activity. But most of them have powerful antioxidant properties that are essential for a healthier body.
When you eat orange coloured foods, some of the carotenoids are specifically localised in certain organs and tissues. These organs have specialised functions. For example, some are localised in your eyes for visual functions.
Orange coloured foods for reproductive health
Some of the carotenoids from orange coloured fruits and vegetables are localised in parts of the body that are related to reproductive health. Due to their powerful antioxidant capacities, these carotenoids help in fighting oxidative stress in these organs. And oxidative stress is associated with infertility in both males and females. Therefore orange coloured plant foods are important for a healthier fertility.
Reproductive systems are some of the most sensitive tissues to oxidative stress. Too much oxidative stress damages reproductive health resulting in infertility.
Orange coloured fruits and vegetables help in reducing oxidative damage to the ovaries. And also helps reduce oxidative damage to sperms. Beta carotene is essential in enhancing the production of sexual hormones. And it also protects the ovaries and testicles from oxidative stress.
Examples of orange coloured fruits and vegetables to choose from:
Fruits: mangoes, oranges, pawpaw, peaches, passion fruit, orange sweet corn
Vegetables: carrots, orange bell peppers, pumpkins, orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, turmeric, yam
2. Red coloured fruits and vegetables for inflammation
Red coloured fruits and vegetables are the best foods for inflammation. They are also very useful for inflammatory diseases. This is because they are rich in phytonutrients that have anti-inflammatory health benefits to consumers.
The phytonutrients in red coloured fruits and vegetables give the food a range of health properties. They provide you with the ability to fight oxidative stress and inflammation. They also help your body in modulating the immune system in response to diseases. The phytonutrients in red plant-based foods include vitamin C, lycopene, anthocyanins and anthoxanthins.
Role of red coloured foods in fighting inflammation in your body
Too much inflammation in your body relates to dysfunctional and dysregulated immune responses. This results in inflammation-related chronic health conditions. This includes:
- Neurological abnormalities
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Other life-threatening conditions.
So, red coloured fruits and vegetables are some of the best and healthiest sources of vitamin C. And vitamin C is one of the best phytonutrients for fighting inflammation. Red coloured fruits and vegetables help in reducing system inflammation. And also bolstering your immune status by reducing infections in your body. To make it simple, they help in keeping your body safe from infections!
Lycopene in tomatoes gives them a red colour. This compound reduces inflammation and metabolic issues arising from a high-fat diet. Betalains in beets help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress and dyslipidaemia. Strawberries are also rich in anthocyanins that reduce post-meal inflammation and oxidative stress!
The red fruits and vegetables you can try
Vegetables: radishes, red bell pepper, red beetroot, red cabbage, red onion and red potatoes.
Fruits: tomatoes, apples, watermelon, strawberries, pomegranate, guava, wild fruits like tsvanzva
3. Yellow fruits and vegetables aid in digestive processes
Yellow coloured fruits and vegetables are rich in phytonutrients that benefit your digestive tract. These yellow coloured foods contain bioflavonoids that modify your gastric microorganisms. For example, they modify the bacteria that increase the risks of getting ulcers. They also provide raw materials needed by your gut bacteria to produce energy. Therefore yellow coloured plant-based foods help modify your gut microorganisms. And this helps in improving your gut and digestive health.
Ginger is a yellow food condiment and it is helpful in a wide range of guy disorders. It helps in alleviating vomiting, dyspepsia and irritable bowel syndrome. It also helps in stimulating gastric emptying such that the digestive processes can easily progress.
Lemons are acidic. Their low pH is beneficial to digestive health. They can lower the digestion of starch in high starch meals. Therefore this lowers your energy intake. This is the reason why lemons are good for weight management.
Eating citrus fruits is also associated with a reduced risk of getting oesophageal cancer.
Also read: Why is weight loss slow?
Yellow fruits to try:
Fruits: golden apple, lemon, banana, pineapple, maroro,
Vegetables: yellow onions, yellow bell peppers, squash, potatoes, ginger, yellow corn, yellow sweet potatoes
4. Green coloured foods for cardiovascular health
Green leafy vegetables are abundant in nutrients that are beneficial to heart health. These include vitamin K, magnesium, potassium and folates.
Daily consumption of green leafy vegetables lowers the risks of cardiovascular diseases by 15.8%.
An increase in your daily vegetable consumption also reduces the risk of hypertension, stroke and coronary heart disease.
Green coloured leafy vegetables are rich in polyphenols that reduce cardiometabolic risks.
Green coloured fruits and vegetables to try:
Vegetables: cabbage, broccoli, okra, lettuce, kale, green beans, cat’s whiskers, blackjack, amaranth, wild jute, nightshade
Fruits: avocado, green tea, lime, green apple, pears
5. Blue purple coloured foods for cognition
Cognition describes your mental and psychological well being. Blue purple coloured fruits and vegetables are good for your mood, mental health and wellbeing.
Blueberries are good for your health because they are rich in polyphenols and flavonoids. They are also good sources of flavonoids and procyanidins. Blueberry consumption helps improve your mood and cognition. It improves cognitive parameters like task repetition and switching between tasks.
Eating grapes is associated with strong antioxidant properties. This is because they are rich in beneficial purple and blue phytochemicals. And this is the main reason why red wine is recommended for health. Grapes are also rich in compounds shown to be inhibitors of cancer cell proliferation. They also have proven properties for the reduction of platelet aggregation and lowering your blood cholesterol.
Blue/purple fruits and vegetables to try:
Fruits: Blackberry, blueberry, figs, grapes, hute,
Vegetables: eggplant, purple carrots, purple kale, purple potatoes, purple-fleshed sweet potatoes, purple cabbage
Also read: 9. Different ways healthy foods can sustain your body
Conclusion on coloured fruits and vegetables
Coloured fruits and vegetables provide you with a rich array of different phytonutrients. These are very important for several health benefits including those I discussed in this article. It is always better to ensure that you consume foods of different colours for optimum health. We call this kind of diet a rainbow diet. And the act of eating such a diet is called eating the rainbow!