Eat or Drink a Rainbow!

five glasses of juice in different colours - yellow, orange, purple, green and pink
Eat a Rainbow Juices [Photo Credit: silviarita from Pixabay]

I personally respond to colour and so it makes sense to me that colour therapy is based on the idea that colours create an electrical impulse in our brain, which stimulates hormonal and biochemical processes in our body. These processes either stimulate or calm us. There can be as many colours in colour therapy sessions as there are colours in the rainbow.

Why are fruits and vegetables so many different colors?

Fruits and vegetables gain their distinctive colours due to the presence of various phytochemicals. Although I had never thought of food colour being related to nutrition before, it comes as no surprise that each of the colors in fruits and vegetables are indicative of various nutrients.  As a result, not only do they look appealing in presentation but by eating a diversity of these colourful foods, your body can obtain a range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals that it needs to heal and thrive.

What are phytochemicals?

Phytochemicals are compounds that occur naturally in plant foods and work synergistically with vitamins and minerals to keep us healthy. Fruits and vegetables are among the most important source of phytochemicals in the human diet and their benefits to health are mainly a result of their high antioxidant activity.

blue and purple foods - beets, red grapes, blue berries, blackberries, plums
green foods - kale, broccoli, parsley, brussel sprouts

What do the different colours of fruits and vegetables indicate?

The colors of fruits and vegetables can often offer a clue as to their benefits just by looking at them. Below is a summary of some of the foods and their benefits in each colour category:

green and yellow foods = kiwi, avocado, pistachio nuts
yellow and orange foods - carrots, peach, lemon, butternut squash

  Purple/BlueAnthocyanin (members of the flavonoid group and darker hues indicate a higher concentration)Anti-ageing, anti-inflammatory and disease preventing propertiesbeetroot, eggplant, red cabbage, blackberries, plums, blueberries, purple grapes, and figs
  GreenChlorophyll and IsothiocyanatesBoost immune system, help detoxify the body and restore energy and vitalitybrussel sprouts, kale, broccoli, cabbage, collards, bok choy, asparagus, peas
Green/YellowLutein (antioxidant which belongs to the carotenoid family)Age-related macular degenerationavocado, kiwi, spinach, pistachio nuts
  Yellow/OrangeCarotenoids or Beta CaroteneImprove immune function, promote eye and skin health and decrease risk of various cancersmangoes, apricots, carrots, pumpkins, squash, peaches, papayas, lemons, grapefruit, corn
  RedLycopeneHelps fight cancer, reduce risk of diabetes and heart disease, and improve skin qualityred peppers, red onions, cranberries, tomatoes, red grapes, watermelon, cherries
  White/BeigeFlavonoids (which for the most part are colorless)Protect against cancers and keep bones stronggarlic, bananas, ginger, parsnips, turnip, onion, mushrooms, daikon radish, cauliflower
red foods - red onion, red pepper, strawberries, tomato
white and beige foods - banana, cauliflower, ginger, mushroom, garlic

Health benefits of eating a rainbow

As outlined in the table above, a diet that includes a lot of different fruits and vegetables can offer many health benefits including lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, lower the risk of eye and digestive problems, and generally contribute to energy and vitality.

Since we appear to benefit from a rainbow of nutrients and colours, variety has been deemed one of the keys to a healthy diet. As a creature of habit and because I cook for a small household, I have found this to be one of the most challenging aspects of creating healthy meals.  I tend to stick to my favourites and it is not always either practical to buy many different foods or have the time to be creative with new recipes. However, colour is something to keep in mind when selecting food and it can offer a whole new approach to eating!

row of tomatoes in rainbow colours
Rainbow Fruits and Vegetables: Tomatoes [Photo Credit: Foto-Os on Pixabay]

Closing Thoughts

One of the main advantages about choosing food by colour is that it takes some of the guesswork out of ensuring you are receiving all the needed nutrients recommended for optimum health. Also, if food looks beautiful and colourful, it will likely be more appealing to the palate.  So next time you are in the grocery store, perhaps pick a colour you have never eaten before.  Eggplant was one vegetable that found its way into my kitchen simply because of its delicious deep purple colour. 

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2 responses to “Eat or Drink a Rainbow!”

  1. Thank you for another most interesting item, Joanne. The table showing the attributes and benefits of fruit and vegetables by colour is very useful and I will use it when I go shopping !


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