We’re sure you’re familiar with the tagline “taste the rainbow” well we want to challenge you to eat the rainbow.  

Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals and phytochemicals. These phytochemicals give them their diverse range of colours. Yes, just like the rainbow. Nutrition experts categorise food into different colour groups. Red, yellow/orange, purple/blue, green and brown/white is the most common classification.

This article will look at the various fruit and vegetables that fall within each colour category and their known benefits.

Red group

The vegetables and fruits which fall into this group contain the antioxidant lycopene. Overall, antioxidants are essential because they protect the body from free radicals. A diet rich in lycopene may be beneficial in preventing prostate cancer and other types of cancer. Lycopene also helps in promoting a healthy heart

Your red foods

  • Radish, tomato, strawberry, cherry, watermelon, red apple, pink grapefruit, raspberry, kidney beans, red onion and cranberries.

Did you know that one glass of tomato juice provides you with half of the recommended lycopene intake?

Yellow group

This group receives its colour from carotenoids. One such carotenoid is beta-carotene, which isn’t of itself an essential nutrient. However, it converts to vitamin A, and a suitable level of this vitamin has significant benefits. Some benefits are healthy skin and mucous membranes and good eye health and vision. Also, vitamin A helps slow cognitive decline. In addition to beta-carotene, lutein is another carotenoid found in yellow foods. Lutein, the eye vitamin, helps protect against cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), leading to blindness.

Your yellow foods

  • Carrot, sweet potato, pumpkin, pineapple, mango, corn, oranges, squash, peach, grapefruit, lemon, honeydew melon, tangerine and cantaloupe.

Did you know that an orange contains over 100% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C?

Purple/blue group

Anthocyanin is the natural plant pigment that gives purple and blue fruits and vegetables their colour. Anthocyanins are a type of flavonoid with similar effects to antioxidants. They help to prevent heart disease, diabetes, inflammation and cancer. Foods of this group boost overall health because they contain an army of nutrients.

Your purple/blue foods

  • Beetroot, eggplant, red cabbage, purple grapes, plums, blueberries, blackberries and prunes.

Did you know that red wine, as it is made from grapes, contains anthocyanin?

Green group

Fruits and vegetables coloured green contain indoles, sulforaphane and isocyanate. All three chemicals offer anti-cancer properties as they ward off carcinogens. Also, spinach, broccoli, and other green leafy vegetables are superb sources of folate.

Your green foods

Spinach, broccoli, callaloo, avocado, pears, green apples, limes, green grapes, lettuce, cabbage, celery, cucumber, kale, bok choi (pak choi), watercress, Brussel sprouts and asparagus. 

Did you know that broccoli is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet containing vitamin E and K, folate, potassium, iron, manganese, B vitamins and even protein?

White/brown foods

Allicin is the phytochemical found in this category’s foods and vegetables, and it has antiviral and antibacterial properties. Some white foods have quercetin and kaempferol. Both of these flavonoids boast anti-inflammatory properties.

Your white/brown foods

  • Cauliflower, garlic, banana, potatoes, onions, ginger, mushrooms, dates and brown pears.

Did you know that in addition to combatting the common cold, garlic can lower your cholesterol level?

Never before has there been a better reason to decorate your plate. Why taste the rainbow when you should be taking a big bite out of it? We invite you to start combining colours.  

By Lou-Ann Jordan

Lou-Ann Jordan is a writer for Yellow Media Group, of which Caymanrestaurants.com is a subsidiary.

Sources: Nutrition AustraliaCBS NewsHealthlineMedical News Today, and Very Well Health.