top of page

The 5 Colors of Phytonutrients

Updated: Feb 8

According to Harvard Health Publishing phytonutrients not only protect us from chronic diseases but also, “Phytonutrients have potent anti-cancer and anti-heart disease effects. And epidemiological research suggests that food patterns that include fruits and vegetables are associated with a reduced risk of many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, and may be protective against certain types of cancers.”

So what are phytonutrients and what makes them so healthy for humans?

Put simply, phytonutrients, also known as phytochemicals, are compounds found in plants that give them their color. They are known to aid in enriching human health when consuming a healthy dose. Foods rich in phytonutrients are fruits, vegetables, whole grains, teas, spices, legumes, or certain spices. The best way to ensure getting a healthy dose of nutrients is to eat the colors of the rainbow in foods.

Here’s the Phytonutrient Food List by Color, Compound, and Health Benefits

Red Foods

Red foods aid in anti-inflammation, DNA health, cell protection, vascular and prostate health, and have anti-cancer compounds. Common red foods include but are not limited to apples, kidney beans, beets, bell peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, watermelon, pomegranates, etc. Two compounds found in red foods are anthocyanins and lycopene. Anthocyanins are found in red berries and aid in reducing cancer risks, and heart and brain health.

Orange/Yellow Foods

Orange and yellow foods aid in similarly anti-cancer, protect the immune system, decrease risks of heart disease, and protect eyes and skin. Comonly, they are found in apples, bananas, bell peppers, lemon, ginger root, carrots, oranges, and apricots. Yellow and orange foods contain more carotenoids. Including lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, and bioflavonoids, to name a few compounds.

Green Foods

Healthy aspects of green food is hormonal balance, great for the liver, heart, and skin. Just like the other colors, green foods are anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory. There is a huge selection of green foods so it gives you many options to choose from. Known green foods include avocados, apples, asparagus, bok choy, broccoli, and many more! Some compounds in green foods are catechins, phytosterols, and glucosinolates.

Blue / Purple Foods

Benefits of blue and purple foods include benefits of brain health, including cognition and memory. They are similarly anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory like the other colors. Popular foods include cabbage, eggplant, figs, berries, grapes, and plums. Compounds include anthocyanins, resveratrol, and pterostilbene, and many others. A discerning factor of pterostilbene is keeping cholesterol and triglycerides low and it is found in blueberries and grapes.

White / Brown Foods

White and brown foods are known to have antitumor compounds, cell protection, gastrointestinal health, and liver health. Unlike the other food colors, this one has less fruits and vegetables, and mainly are dates, coconut, ginger, garlic, onions, mushrooms, and nuts, to name a few. The compounds for this group include allicin, cellulose, lignans, sesamin, etc. You can find out the specific properties of foods but that is optional because all you need to do is to include a variety of color in your diet to get the most phytonutrients.

The Takeaway

Phytonutrients include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, spices, and legumes. They are an essential part of enriching our health and protecting us from chronic disease. Eating all colors of phytonutrients ensures a much healthier and more balanced way to protect your health while preventing future health risks.

Article By: Shahristan Alhamy

2 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page