Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is the easiest way to “eat the rainbow.” The color of the fruit or vegetable indicates the different vitamins and antioxidants that food contains. Red produce, like tomatoes and watermelon, has lycopene and anthocyanin, which are cancer-fighting antioxidants. An antioxidant is a substance that gets oxidized to protect your body’s cells from getting damaged. Antioxidants help keep your cells, especially your heart, healthy.
Orange and yellow produce, like carrots and bell peppers contain carotenoids, and citrus fruits like oranges or kiwis contain vitamin C and folate. Carotenoids, especially beta-carotene, are converted to vitamin A in the body. Carotenoids help reduce risk of cancer and heart disease while increasing immune system function. The body uses vitamin C for tissue growth and repair as well as bone maintenance. Folate is essential for DNA synthesis and red blood cell production.
Green produce such as kale or broccoli or zucchini can contain lutein, folate, and vitamin K. Lutein works with other chemicals to maintain healthy eyes. As well as what is listed above, folate also reduces the risk of birth defects. Vitamin K is used during red blood cell coagulation, which allows blood proteins to bind to calcium.
Blue and purple produce like eggplant and beets contain an antioxidant called anthocyanin that may reduce cancer, stroke, and heart disease risks while improving memory function.
Garlic, cauliflower, and other white produce can contain allicin, which might lower cholesterol and blood pressure as well as decrease the risk of stomach cancer and heart disease. White produce can also have potassium, which counteracts the dangerous effects of a high sodium diet.
Eating a variety of produce keeps meals interesting. Varying which fruits and vegetables you eat can help ensure that you are getting all of the different vitamins and antioxidants while adding more fiber to your diet. Trying new fruits and vegetables with new recipes will make cooking at home healthy and more fun.