Fruits and vegetables get their colors from pigments in their skin or flesh. These pigments are made up of different compounds that can provide health benefits for various organs and functions.
With this understanding, researchers and educators establish a learning system to help people identify what each color means for their health.
Although an “eat the rainbow” diet is an oversimplified approach to healthy eating, it can be an effective way to ensure you’re getting a wide variety of nutrients.
RED for Inflammation
- Red Bell Pepper
The primary pigment in red foods is lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants work by scavenging harmful metabolic byproducts (reactive oxygen species) and inflammation-causing molecules in the body.
Red foods also tend to be high in potassium and Vitamins A and C, which can help your immune system and reduce your risk of developing chronic illnesses.
ORANGE for Reproductive Health
Carotenoids are the primary pigment in orange foods, and they’re known to be essential for reproductive health. These fat-soluble antioxidants are spread throughout your body but appear to be particularly allocated towards parts of the body associated with hormones and reproductive health.
Carotenoids and beta-carotene may play an important role in supporting ovarian tissues, as well as protecting sperm from oxidative damage.
YELLOW for Digestion
These foods promote gastrointestinal health by supporting the growth of healthy gut bacteria and improving digestion.
Bananas, plantains, and pineapples, for example, are rich in prebiotic fiber. Pineapples also contain bromelain, an enzyme that helps metabolize undigested food. Ginger contains compounds that relieve nausea, vomiting, and indigestion.
GREEN for Cardiovascular Health
- Leafy greens (spinach, lettuce, kale)
- Brussels sprouts
Green foods, especially leafy vegetables, are rich in nutrients that may benefit heart health, including vitamin K, magnesium, potassium, nitrates, and folates.
These nutrients and more work together to reduce blood pressure, enhance tissue blood flow, reduce plaque formation, and reduce your risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.
BLUE-PURPLE for Cognition
These foods are rich in polyphenol flavonoids, flavonols, and anthocyanins—compounds that have been shown to promote cognitive function and protect the brain against age-related damage.
The darker the blue coloring, the higher the concentration of these compounds, and the greater effect it may have on assisting learning, memory, and mood.
Eat a Rainbow Every Day
While there’s no need to obsess over getting every color of the rainbow into your diet every day, it is essential to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need for good health.
Make an extra effort to make each meal colorful, and you’ll be well on your way to a nutrient-rich diet that does wonders for every part of your body.