What is the best colors of fruits and vegetables to eat?

Fruits and vegetables with vibrant colors often contain many disease fighting antioxidants. So, choosing colorful produce is a great step towards making your diet as healthy as possible. For example, produce with a blue or purple hue contain anthocyanin, a phytochemical found in foods like blueberries, eggplant, grapes and raisins. This pigment can help protect cells from damage and may help lower risk of heart disease. Red produce such as tomatoes, cherries, pink grapefruit and watermelon contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that may help lower risk of cancer. Foods that are colored orange or yellow such as yellow peppers, pineapple, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and apricots contain natural plant pigments called carotenoids. Beta-carotene can be converted to vitamin A, which can help us to maintain healthy eyes. The color green is usually associated with “healthy” when it comes to food. Green produce can be super good for us and I always encourage my patients to eat more spinach, broccoli, pepper, green apples, and artichokes. Many of these green fruits and vegetables contain folate, lutein and powerful phytochemicals called indoles. These may help reduce our risk of cancer. And, we have been talking about colorful produce, but white produce can also be very healthy and we should try to include them in our diet. White fruits and vegetables include bananas, onions, garlic and ginger. These white foods are colored by the phytochemical called anthoxanthins, which may help improve our cholesterol and reduce blood pressure.

Every day, I tell my patients to “sample the spectrum”. I suggest that they fill their plates with as many colors as possible. For example, if a typical breakfast for you consists of cereal with milk and toast, I suggest that you add a banana or strawberries to your cereal and drink ½ cup of 100% fruit juice. If lunch is generally a sandwich and chips, I suggest that you top your sandwich with lettuce and tomato, skip the chips and choose carrots and hummus and add a cup of vegetable soup. For dinner, throw mushrooms, green pepper and carrots into the spaghetti sauce and have a nice sized spinach salad beforehand. And skip the ice cream for dessert and instead have a fresh fruit cup along with some Greek yogurt for a very healthy meal!

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