Renew & Restore Detox Kit
- Clear away brain fog
- Ignite your digestive fire
- Rev up your energy
Look around your grocery store’s produce aisle or farmers market and you’ll notice a rainbow of colors. Besides being beautiful to look at, all of those vibrant colors have a host of nutritional benefits as well. Nature is amazing that way!
You might remember learning about Roy G. Biv—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet—the acronym for the colors of the rainbow. In the world of food, we can also add in pink, white, tan, dark brown, and black to that rainbow of colors.
Red and pink foods contain the antioxidants lycopene, beta-carotene (both carotenoids), as well as vitamin C.
Red foods that are high in lycopene, beta-carotene, and vitamin C include: tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries, currants, red peppers, red apples, radishes, red chard, beets, red potatoes, red grapes, kidney beans, cranberries, pomegranates, and red quinoa.
Pink foods include: grapefruits, guava, watermelon, and salmon.
Orange and yellow foods are also high in beta-carotene and vitamin C. In addition to the benefits mentioned above, beta-carotene contributes about 50 percent of the vitamin A in a typical American diet. Beta-carotene has been used to help treat everything from exercise-related asthma, AIDS, heart disease, and macular degeneration to alcoholism, epilepsy, psoriasis, and Parkinson’s disease.
Some studies have shown that taking supplement forms of beta-carotene has actually increased the incidence of lung cancer in smokers and those who’ve been exposed to asbestos. It’s recommended that you get your beta-carotene from bright-colored fruits and vegetables rather than supplements.
Orange foods that are high in beta-carotene and vitamin C include: pumpkins, oranges, carrots, papayas, orange peppers, mangos, orange beets, sweet potatoes, turmeric, orange tomatoes, peaches, nectarines, and cantaloupe.
Yellow foods include: summer squash, lemons, corn, pineapple, star fruit, yellow tomatoes, garbanzo beans, and egg yolks.
Most green foods contain the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin—both carotenoids that have been shown to protect eye health and fight some cancers.
The body can’t synthesize all of the lutein and zeaxanthin that it needs, so it’s important to eat lots of dark leafy greens and egg yolks, which both contain high amounts of these antioxidants.
Dark leafy greens also contain folate, a B-vitamin and form of folic acid.
Dark green veggies also contain calcium, potassium, fiber, vitamin E, and vitamin C.
Green foods that are high in lutein and zeaxanthin include: avocados, artichokes, all dark leafy greens (also high in folate), spinach, green peppers, celery, broccoli, cucumbers, green apples, parsley, lettuce, green grapes, honeydew melons, lima beans, edamame, scallions, green tea, and kiwi.
Blue and purple foods contain vitamin C and the flavonoid anthocyanin, as well as antioxidants, ellagic acid and polyphenols.
Blue foods that contain anthocyanin, ellagic acid, and vitamin C include: blueberries, blue potatoes, and blue corn.
Purple foods include: blackberries, boysenberries, plums, eggplant, concord grapes, red wine, cherries, and purple cabbages.
This is not processed white food such as white bread, white rice, or white sugar. These are natural white foods in the form of fruits and vegetables. White fruits and veggies are packed with the flavonoid quercetin.
White foods that contain quercetin include: bananas, jicama, onions, fennel, garlic, potatoes, mushrooms, hearts of palm, coconut, cauliflower, white navy beans, fava beans, turnips, rutabagas, and parsnips.
Tan foods, though not as colorful as others, can still provide valuable health benefits. Tan foods are high in fiber, which helps to protect the digestive tract, prevent colon cancer, and possibly protect against heart disease.
Tan foods include: most whole grains such as wheat, brown rice, quinoa and oats, as well as nuts and nut butters.
Dark-brown foods are high in polyphenols, a robust type of antioxidant that has been shown to protect the body from cancers, diabetes, heart diseases, and osteoporosis.
Dark brown foods include: coffee, some teas, and dark chocolate.
Black foods are rich in minerals, including iron and calcium, and anthocyanins.
Black foods include: black beans, black olives, black quinoa, black rice, black sesame seeds, black pepper, black lentils, and black tea.
As a general rule, the darker the color (dark reds, blues, purples, and blacks) the more antioxidants they contain. Make it a habit of eating a rainbow of foods every day, and you’ll quickly be amazed by the benefits. Adding three colors of veggies to your dinner every night will total over 500 servings of veggies in just six months.
*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center's Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.