Phytochemicals: Red, Orange, and Yellow Foods!

Eat the rainbow! No, I don’t mean Skittles.

I mean getting colorful in the produce section of the grocery store. Shop for red, orange, yellow, blue, green, and purple fruits and/or veggies of all varieties. Why? It’s one of the best ways to optimize your nutrition, improve your health, and add delicious flavor to your meals. Research shows those who consume plant-rich diets with a variety of colorful foods are less likely to develop heart disease or certain types of cancer. So, what’s the secret behind the rainbow? It’s not magic. It’s phytochemicals!

Phytochemicals

Phytochemicals literally mean plant chemicals. They are found in all plant-based foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Phytochemicals are like the superpower to the foods you eat. They give them flavor, color, and some of their important nutritional properties. A few possible health benefits of consuming phytochemicals are:

–   Improving immunity

–   Protecting cells from damage that may lead to cancer

–   Reducing body inflammation

–   Slowing the growth rate of some cancerous cells

–   Regulating and balancing hormones

Plus, with somewhere around 5,000 known phytochemicals, there are many ways to color your nutrition! Some of the most common phytochemicals are:

–   Carotenoids: This includes beta carotene and lycopene. These phytochemicals may help limit the growth of cancer cells, reduce the risk of heart disease, and improve immunity. You might find these in cooked tomatoes, orange squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, and green plants like broccoli and spinach!

–   Flavonoids: These phytochemicals are powerful antioxidants which may fight inflammation and decrease cell damage that could lead to cancer.

–   Anthocyanins: Another powerful antioxidant commonly found in berries! A handful of blueberries might help lower blood pressure as well as add some delicious flavor to your breakfast! Anthocyanins can also help protect your liver, improve your eyesight and reduce your blood pressure.

–   Isothiocyanates: Yikes, that’s a mouthful. Regardless, these plant chemicals may help protect against cancer and heart disease. You can find them in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower. You might want to think twice before feeding all your broccoli to the dog under the table!

–   Lutein and Zeaxanthin: You’ve heard that carrots might help improve eyesight, but dark leafy greens are often overlooked for their role in promoting good eye health! Things like spinach and chard may help protect your vision.

The kinds of phytochemicals and nutritional components found in foods vary depending on their color. That’s why it’s important to include as many colors as possible in your diet.

Red Foods

Red fruits and veggies owe their ruby hue to lycopene and anthocyanin. Lycopene is an antioxidant which can help keep your heart healthy, protect your eyes, and fight off infection! Meanwhile, anthocyanins, as mentioned, may help protect the liver, eyes, and reduce blood pressure. Some red veggies may also help reduce your risk of diabetes, osteoporosis, and high cholesterol! The deeper the red color the more phytochemicals the food has.

A few options you have to add a little red to your plate are:

–   Apples

–   Blood oranges

–   Cherries

–   Cranberries

–   Red grapes

–   Red or pink grapefruit

–   Red pears

–   Pomegranates

–   Raspberries

–   Strawberries

–   Watermelon

–   Beets

–   Red peppers

–   Radishes

–   Radicchio

–   Red onions

–   Red potatoes

–   Rhubarb

–   Tomatoes

Orange and Yellow Foods

The vibrant color of oranges, mangoes, and other yellow/orange foods comes from beta-carotene. Like anthocyanins, these are also powerful antioxidants. Beta-carotene converts into vitamin A in the body which plays a critical role in many body functions like

repairing tissues, forming teeth and bones, helping immunity and keeping your eyes healthy! Research also links beta-carotene rich foods with a lower risk of developing some cancers and heart disease.

When it comes to orange and yellow foods you probably think of oranges and lemons. These citrus foods also contain lots of vitamin C and folate which is a B vitamin. You can also find flavonoids in these breakfast favorites (and other citrus fruits) which help reduce your risk of cancer, keep your bones, teeth, and skin healthy, and also protects you from heart disease!

You can get these nutrients from:

–   Yellow apples

–   Apricots

–   Cantaloupe

–   Yellow figs

–   Grapefruit

–   Lemons

–   Mangoes

–   Nectarines

–   Oranges

–   Peaches

–   Pineapples

–   Butternut squash

–   Carrots

–   Yellow peppers

–   Yellow potatoes

–   Pumpkin

–   Sweet corn

–   Sweet potatoes

Just to name a few! The key to getting the most out of your nutrition is to include foods from every color in the rainbow every day. The possibilities are endless, so get creative!

How Can FK Help You?

If you’re not sure how to upgrade your nutrition using powerful phytochemicals – we got your back. At FK, we specialize in creating meal plans that optimize your health using wholesome, delicious, and nutritious foods! You can try one of our FK Online Meal Plans to transform your nutrition today!

Our FK Online Meal Plan options are:

–   Keto

–   Vegan

–   Metabolic

The best part is our meal plans are customizable. We take your information regarding your current health and activity levels, and your goals, and we tweak our meal plans to fit your unique needs. The end result is a nutrition plan created with you in mind. You’ll get the powerful nutrition you need to reach your unique health and fitness goals!

FK Online Meal Plans are not delivered to your fridge, but right to your inbox! Once you sign up for the FK Online Meal Plans and send us your info, we’ll send your complete meal prep program. This program includes an overview of the foods you’ll have every day, their nutrition content, preparation, cooking, and storage instructions, and even a grocery list!

Whichever plan you choose, rest assured that our meal plans will help you optimize your nutrition to get the health and wellness you deserve.

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Cheers,

Fran

NOTE: Fran’s Kitchen offers two different meal plan services. Our Delivery Meal Plans are delivered to customers on an agreed upon schedule. Our ONLINE MEAL PLANS are NOT delivered. These online meal plans are sent to customers via email to be cooked, followed, and enjoyed from the comfort of their own kitchens! Please be mindful of these differences when registering for Fran’s Kitchen services. Thank you!

Sources

Colors of Vegetables & Their Nutrients 

Fill up on phytochemicals – Harvard Health

For the Health Benefits of Phytochemicals, “Eat a Rainbow”

Health Benefits of Red and Orange Vegetables

Red Vegetables: 11 Healthy and Delicious Options.The Importance of a Colorful Diet | Winneshiek Medical Center | DecorahWinneshiek Medical Center

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