Do Colors Play an Important Role?

Red, Blue and Purple
Red, blue and purple fruits and vegetables usually contain anthocyanins, and red fruits and vegetables often contain lycopene as well. Anthocyanins have antioxidant properties that help limit damage caused to your cells by free radicals and may also lower your risk for heart disease, stroke, cancer, macular degeneration and memory problems. Lycopene may help lower your risk for cancer and heart disease. These brightly colored fruits and vegetables often also contain essential vitamins and minerals such as potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C and folate. Compounds in these fruits and vegetables also help keep your vision and immune system healthy and limit your risk for urinary tract infections.

White
White fruits and vegetables get their color from polyphenol compounds with antioxidant properties called anthoxanthins, which may help lower your risk for heart disease and cancer. Some white foods, like garlic, contain allicin, which may help lower your risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer and heart disease. These foods may also be good sources of potassium, vitamin C, folate, niacin and riboflavin. A study published in November 2011 in “Stroke” found that consuming more white fruits and vegetables may lower your risk for strokes.

Orange and Yellow
The compounds that give orange and yellow fruits and vegetables their color are called carotenoids. Carotenoids may help improve your immune function and lower your risk for heart disease, vision problems and cancer. Beta-carotene is a carotenoid that your body uses to create vitamin A. Folate, potassium, bromium and vitamin C are also often found in orange and yellow fruits and vegetables.

Green
Chlorophyll gives green fruits and vegetables their color. Some of these fruits and vegetables also contain indoles, which may lower your risk for cancer, and lutein, which helps prevent problems with your vision. Other common nutrients in many of these fruits and vegetables include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K and folate.