Color Chart of Healthy Fruits and Vegetables
Synopsis: List of different color fruits and vegetables that contain unique health components essential to human health and wellness. The colors of fruits and vegetables are a small clue as to what vitamins and nutrients are included. By getting various colored fruits and vegetables, you are guaranteed a diverse amount of essential vitamins and minerals. Each different color fruit and vegetable contains unique health components vital to our health. The phrase "eating a rainbow" of fruits and vegetables is a simple way of remembering to get as much color variety in your diet as possible to maximize your intake of a broad range of nutrients.
- Fruits and Vegetables
Generally speaking, a vegetable is defined as a herbaceous plant or plant part that is regularly eaten as unsweetened or salted food by humans and is considered a vegetable. Whereas, botanically speaking, fruits are defined as fleshy reproductive organs of plants, the ripened ovaries containing one or many seeds, such as apples, oranges, grapes, strawberries, juniper berries, and bananas.
Most people know that eating five servings of fruits and vegetables daily is significant. By eating fruits and vegetables of a variety of different colors, one can get the best all-around health benefits. Each additional color fruit and vegetable contains unique health components that are essential to our health.
Fruits and vegetables are very important to our health because they are whole foods, created by nature, that are rich in a large amount of nutrients. The processed foods that we so commonly eat, can never compare to the health benefits provided by strawberries or broccoli, which have fiber, vitamins, and enzymes built right in.
Eating plenty of healthy vegetables and fruits helps prevent heart disease and strokes, diverticulitis, control your blood pressure, prevent some types of cancers, and guards against cataract and macular degeneration or vision loss.
Table 1: Color Chart of Fruit and Vegetable Including Nutrients Specific to Each Color
|Color Chart of Fruit and Vegetable Nutrients|
|Red Colored Fruits and Vegetables|
Nutrients in Red Fruits and Vegetables
Lycopene, ellagic acid, Quercetin, and Hesperidin, to name a few.
These nutrients reduce the risk of prostate cancer, lower blood pressure, reduce tumor growth and LDL cholesterol levels, scavenge harmful free-radicals, and support join tissue in arthritis cases.
Types of Red Fruits and Vegetables
|Orange and Yellow Fruit and Vegetables|
Nutrients in Orange and Yellow Fruit and Vegetables
Beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, flavonoids, lycopene, potassium, and vitamin C.
These nutrients reduce age-related macula degeneration and the risk of prostate cancer, lower LDL cholesterol and blood pressure, promote collagen formation and healthy joints, fight harmful free radicals, encourage alkaline balance, and work with magnesium and calcium to build healthy bones.
Types of Yellow and Orange Fruits and Vegetables
|Green Vegetables and Fruit|
Nutrients in Green Vegetables and Fruit
Chlorophyll, fiber, lutein, zeaxanthin, calcium, folate, vitamin C, iron, calcium, and Beta-carotene.
The nutrients found in these vegetables reduce cancer risks, lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels, normalize digestion time, support retinal health and vision, fight harmful free-radicals, and boost immune system activity.
Types of Green Fruits and Vegetables
|Blue and Purple Fruits and Vegetables|
Nutrients in Blue and Purple Fruits and Vegetables
Lutein, zeaxanthin, resveratrol, vitamin C, fiber, flavonoids, ellagic acid, and quercetin.
Similar to the previous nutrients, these nutrients support retinal health, lower LDL cholesterol, boost immune system activity, support healthy digestion, improve calcium and other mineral absorption, fight inflammation, reduce tumor growth, act as an anticarcinogens in the digestive tract, and limit the activity of cancer cells.
Types of Blue and Purple Fruits and Vegetables
|White Colored Fruits and Vegetables|
Nutrients in White fruits and Vegetables
Beta-glucans, EGCG, SDG, and lignans that provide powerful immune boosting activity. These nutrients also activate natural killer B and T cells, reduce the risk of colon, breast, and prostate cancers, and balance hormone levels, reducing the risk of hormone-related cancers.
Types of White Fruits and Vegetables
According to the food pyramid potatoes are not counted as a vegetable, as they are consist mostly of starch and should be consumed sparingly.
What are Nutrients
The nutrients found in fruits and vegetables have a significant impact on our health. The phrase "eating a rainbow" of fruits and vegetables is a simple way of remembering to get as much color variety in your diet as possible, so that you can maximize your intake of a broad range of nutrients. The colors of fruits and vegetables are a small clue as to what vitamins and nutrients are included. By getting a variety of different colored fruits and vegetables, you are guaranteed a diverse amount of essential vitamins and minerals.
Table 2: Color Classifications and Health Benefits
|Colors||Fruits & Vegetables||Phytochemicals|
Vitamins & Minerals
Green Grapes, Limes, Green Pears, Kiwi, Chayote, Honeydew, Avocado, Green Apples
Asparagus, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Celery, Greens, Collard Greens, Muster Greens, Turnip Greens, Spinach, Green Beans, Green Peppers, Cabbage, Zucchini, Packaged Salad Bags, Lettuce, Okra, Cucumbers
|Lutein, Glucosinolates, Folate, Isothiocyanates, Vitamin K, folic acid, potassium, chlorophyll, Vitamin C, Iron
||Prevent macular degeneration, boost immune system, maintain healthy bones and teeth.
(Heber 2004, Garden-Robinson 2009, Guitart, Pickering, and Byrne 2014, FNS 2016)
Cherries, Strawberries, Grapefruit, Watermelon, Blueberries, Plums, Red Grapes, Black Grapes, Red Apples
Beets, Radish, Tomatoes, Red Peppers, Red Onions
|Lycopene, Anthocyanins, Calcium, Vitamin D, Flavonoids, Resveratrol, Vitamin C, Folates||Reduce tumor growth and cancer and stroke risk, Promotes memory function, healthy aging, heart, and prostate health.
(Heber 2004, Garden-Robinson 2009, Joseph, Nadeau, and Underwood 2002, Brown 2016, FNS 2016)
Apricots, Cantaloupe, Pineapple, Yellow Apples, Oranges, Tangerines, Peaches, Mango, Nectarines, Lemons
Carrots, Corn, Pumpkin, Yams, Squash, Yellow Peppers
|Alpha-Carotene, Beta-Carotene, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, folate||Promote vision and immune system; reduce cancer risk, and heart disease.
(PbhFoundation 2016b, Joseph, Nadeau, and Underwood 2002, Brown 2016, FNS 2016)
Bananas, Coconuts, Bosc Pears
Plantain, Cauliflower, White Onions, Mushrooms, Turnips, Russet Potatoes, Idaho Potatoes, Jicama, Yuca
|Allyl Sulfides, Allicin, Potassium, Selenium (Mushrooms, Nuts)
||Prevent certain cancers; maintain cholesterol levels.
(Langtree 2005, Heber 2004, FNS 2016)
What is Quercetin?
Found in apples, onions and other citrus fruits, not only prevents LDL cholesterol oxidation, but also helps the body cope with allergens and other lung and breathing problems.
What is Ellagic Acid?
Mainly found in raspberries, strawberries, pomegranates, and walnuts, has been proven in many clinical studies to act as an antioxidant and anticarcinogens in the gastrointestinal tract. This nutrient also has been proven to have an anti- proliferative effect on cancer cells, because it decreases their ATP production.
The best-known of the carotenoids, beta-carotene, is converted into vitamin A upon entering the liver. Although being known for its positive effects on eyesight, it has also been proven to decrease cholesterol levels in the liver.
Clinical studies have proven that lycopene, mainly found in tomatoes, may decrease the risk of prostate cancer, as well as protect against heart disease. Lutein, which is found in blueberries and members of the squash family, is important for healthy eyes. However, it does support your heart too, helping to prevent against coronary artery disease.
Along with the above stated nutrients, there are even more nutrients found in fruits and vegetables that provide a great deal of support to our body. Almost everyone has heard of vitamin C, which keeps our immune system strong; speeds wound healing, and promote strong muscles and joints. This nutrient is scattered throughout the spectrum of fruits, but commonly associated with oranges and other citrus fruits. Potassium, which is the nutrient most Americans are deficient in, does great things for our hearts, and lowers blood pressure.
Another good food component many people don't get enough of is fiber, found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
What is Selenium?
In humans, selenium is a trace element nutrient that functions as cofactor for reduction of antioxidant enzymes, such as glutathione peroxidases and certain forms of thioredoxin reductase found in animals and some plants. Dietary selenium comes from meat, nuts, cereals and mushrooms. Brazil nuts are the richest dietary source (though this is soil-dependent, since the Brazil nut does not require high levels of the element for its own needs). It has been suggested that selenium supplementation may help prevent cancer incidence in people, but research has established there is no evidence to support such claims (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6491296/).
The selenium content in the human body is believed to be in the 13--20 mg range. The US Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of selenium for teenagers and adults is 55 µg/day. Selenium as a dietary supplement is available in many forms, including multi-vitamins/mineral supplements, which typically contain 55 or 70 µg/serving. Selenium-specific supplements typically contain either 100 or 200 µg/serving.
What are Flavonoids?
Include anthocyanins, flavones, isoflavones, proantocyanidins, quercetin and more, are found almost everywhere. They are responsible for the colors in the skins of fruits and vegetables and help to stop the growth of tumor cells and potent antioxidants. They also can reduce inflammation.
What is Beta-glucan?
Found in mushrooms, stabilizes and balances the body's immune system by supporting white blood cells. EGCG is found in tea and has been shown to reduce the risk of colon and breast cancer. It boosts the immune system and encourages T-cell formation, which defends our body against sickness and disease.
What are Bioflavonoids?
Found in citrus fruits, are considered a companion to vitamin C because they extend the value of it in the body. These nutrients have the capabilities to lower cholesterol levels and support joint collagen in arthritis cases.
The number one excuse for not eating the required five servings of fruits and vegetables each day is they are too expensive. However, as compared to the amount of money spent on pre-packaged, processed, and fast foods, most fruits and vegetables (with the exception of those that are not in season) are not all that expensive.
Because frozen fruits and vegetables retain the majority of their nutritional value, they can be an excellent alternative when certain foods are out of season.
Someone who is not able to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day can also drink fruit and vegetable drinks in their place. Although this shouldn't become a habit, fruit and vegetable drink mixes can be an excellent substitute when you're rushed or traveling.
The need for fruits and vegetables in our diet is growing rapidly with the type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol, hypertension that result from the "Typical American Diet" of fatty meats, processed sugars, and refined grains!
- List of fruits and vegetables you can freeze
- List of healthy food you should be eating
- Eat right with color - National Nutrition Month
- Grapefruit and medications don't mix
Printable Fruit and Vegetable Color Chart
(Right click the chart below and select print.)
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