What Do the Colors of Vegetables Mean?

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VegetablesMom knew best when she demanded that we eat our vegetables. Vegetables are powerhouses when it comes to maintaining optimal health. They are packed with vitamins and minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients – all of which help fight disease, obesity, and aging. Vegetables are important sources of many nutrients, including potassium, folate, vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin C, among others.

Fibrous vegetables (E.g., peppers, carrots, leafy greens) are especially helpful in weight management: they are high in water, and extremely low in calories and fat, so they fill you up with very few calories. They are high in fiber too, which helps to reduce blood cholesterol levels, lowers the risk for heart disease and aids in proper digestion.

The colors found in vegetables are a result of some of the phytonutrients they contain. Phytonutrients are plant compounds that are thought to have health-protecting qualities. Although vegetables contain a lot of nutrients beyond their attributed colored phytonutrient, eating all of the colors of the rainbow helps to ensure that you’re getting a broad spectrum of health-protecting nutrients in your diet. Refer to Every Color of the Rainbow – Vegetables to get a breakdown of typical vegetables, their colors and the associated phytonutrients and their benefits:

Color Phytonutrient Vegetables What it Does
Red Anthocyanins
Lycopene
Beets
Radicchio
Radishes
Red Pepper
Rhubarb
Tomatoes*
  • Keeps urinary tracts healthy
  • Maintains a healthy heart
  • Boosts memory
  • Lowers risk of cancer
Yellow / Orange Bioflavonoids
Carotenoids
Vitamin C
Butternut Squash
Carrots
Pumpkin
Summer squash
Sweet Corn
Sweet Potatoes
Yellow Beets
Yellow Peppers
Yellow Squash
Yellow Tomatoes
  • Keep immune system strong
  • Supports eye function and health
  • Lowers risk of cancer
  • Lowers risk of heart disease
Green Calcium
Indoles
Iron
Lutein
Magnesium
Artichokes
Arugula
Asparagus
Broccoli
Broccoli Rabe Brussels Sprouts
Celery
Chinese Cabbage Cucumbers
Endive
Green Beans
Green Cabbage
Green Peppers
Leafy Greens
Leeks
Green Onions
Okra
Peas
Snow Peas
Sugar Snap Peas
Spinach
Watercress
Zucchini
  • Supports eye function and health
  • Lowers risk of cancer
  • Maintains strong bones and teeth
Blue / Purple Anthocyanins
Phenolics
Eggplant
Purple Cabbage
Purple Belgian Endive
Purple Peppers
Purple Potatoes
Red Cabbage
Red Onion
  • Lower risk of cancers
  • Good for urinary tract health
  • Improves memory function
  • Helps to fight effects of aging
White / Tan / Brown Allicin Cauliflower
Jerusalem Artichokes
Jicama
Mushrooms
Onions
Parsnips
Potatoes
Shallots
Turnips
White Corn
  • Promotes heart health
  • Lowers risk for cancer

Are you well-rounded in the veggies you eat?

52 Small ChangesAdapted from 52 Small Changes: One Year to a Happier, Healthier You. Make real, lasting change with this easy to follow, week-by-week guide to healthy change. Get it now at Amazon.com.

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