Eat Colorful Foods for Better Health
“Eat a rainbow of colors often,” Core Performance founder Mark Verstegen is fond of saying—and with good reason. Eating a variety of colorful food provides vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to nourish your body that can’t be replicated in a supplement.
Different colored foods play different roles in the body. Aim for at least three colors at every meal and two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables over the course of the day.
“Every meal should include colorful fruits and vegetables because of their fiber and nutrient densities,” says Verstegen. “Proteins and carbs will most likely be brown, beige, or white. Add veggies like red and green peppers, carrots, and green beans to get your color quotient up.”
Colorful Foods by the Numbers
Eating three colors each night at dinner will add up to over 500 servings of vegetables over 6 months.
Packed with phytochemicals like lycopene and anthocyanins, red foods help increase heart and circulatory health, improve memory, support urinary tract health, and decrease the risk of certain types of cancers. Try these red foods:
- Cherries – This delicious fruit is high in antioxidants that have been shown to protect against heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. A rich source of antioxidants, tart cherries also help reduce inflammation in the body and relieve pain from gout and arthritis.
- Cranberries – High in antioxidants and proanthocyanidins, cranberries have been shown to prevent bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract wall and reduce inflammation in the body.
- Red bell peppers – Bell peppers are low in calories and fat and high in vitamin C and fiber. Eating bell peppers has been linked to increased immunity, improved digestion, lower cholesterol, and a decreased risk of colon cancer.
- Tomatoes – High in the antioxidant lycopene, tomatoes have been shown to help reduce damage to our cells and decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
- Beets – This low calorie veggie is high in fiber, folate, and vitamins A, C, and K. Beets have been shown to optimize digestive health, decrease inflammation, and help fight heart disease.
Other Red Foods
Other delicious red foods include strawberries, raspberries, watermelon, pink grapefruit, pomegranate, red kidney beans, red apples, red grapes, red pears, radishes, radicchio, red onions, red potatoes, and rhubarb.
Orange foods are high in antioxidants such as vitamin C, carotenoids, and bioflavonoids. Eating orange foods has been linked to skin and eye health, increased immunity, decreased risk of cancer, and a healthy heart. A few of our favorite orange foods include:
- Carrots – Carrots are high in vitamin A, which helps maintain the integrity of the skin, and beta carotene, which has been associated with boosting the immune system and potentially reducing the chances of skin cancer.
- Oranges – This fruit is high in vitamin A and C, which has been linked to increased immunity, heart health, and healthier skin. Also high in magnesium and fiber, oranges can help strengthen bones and improve digestion.
- Sweet potatoes – Often touted as one of the healthiest veggies we can eat, sweet potatoes are high in fiber, vitamins A and C, iron, and antioxidants. Eating sweet potatoes has been shown to promote healthy skin, increased immunity, and a decreased risk of cancer.
- Peaches – High in vitamin A, C, E, K, and fiber, peaches have been shown to help prevent cellular damage, promote healthier digestion, reduce inflammation in the body, and help reduce your risk of cancer.
Other Orange Foods
A few other orange foods to try include apricots, cantaloupe, Cape gooseberries, golden kiwifruit, mangoes, nectarines, papayas, persimmons, tangerines, butternut squash, and rutabagas.
Pineapple, yellow peppers, corn, star fruit, and other yellow foods contain nutrients that promote good digestion and optimal brain function. High in alpha- and beta-carotenes, yellow foods have also been linked to increased immunity, a decreased risk of some cancers, and healthy eyes and skin. Grab these yellow foods on your next shopping trip:
- Pineapple – Cholesterol and fat-free, pineapple is high in bromelain, an enzyme that helps regulate and neutralize body fluids and aids in digestion. Its high vitamin C content has also been linked to decrease in heart disease, cancer, cataracts, and stroke.
- Yellow peppers – High in vitamin C and A, yellow peppers have been linked to increased immune system and healthy skin. Yellow peppers are also high in carotenoids, which help protect from heart disease.
- Star fruit – Caramobla, or more commonly known as start fruit, is high in high in vitamin C and calcium. This fruit has been linked to increased immunity, bone health, and muscle contractions.
Other Yellow Foods
Try some of the other delicious yellow foods like yellow apples, yellow figs, grapefruit, golden kiwifruit, lemon, yellow pears, yellow watermelon, yellow beets, yellow tomatoes, and yellow winter squash.
Green fruits and vegetables contain varying amounts of potent phytochemicals such as lutein and indoles. Benefits include a lower risk of some cancers, improved eye health, rejuvenated musculature and bone, and strong teeth. Stock up on these healthy green foods:
- Broccoli – High in calcium and iron, this veggie has been linked to stronger teeth, bones, and muscles, and a decreased risk of cancer.
- Spinach – This leafy green is high in antioxidants and vitamin K, which helps strength bones.
- Kiwi – Kiwi is high in folate, vitamin E, and glutathione, which all help decrease the risk of heart disease and promote optimal overall health.
Other Green Foods
Other healthy green foods include avocados, green apples, green grapes, honeydew, limes, pears, artichokes, arugula, asparagus, broccoflower, broccoli rabe, Brussels sprouts, Chinese cabbage, green beans, green cabbage, celery, chayote squash, cucumbers, endives, leafy greens, leeks, lettuce, green onions, green peppers, peas, snow peas, sugar snap peas, watercress, and zucchini.
These colorful foods get their bright hue from anthocyanins, which have been linked with antioxidants and anti-aging properties in the body. Blue and purple foods help promote bone health, and have been shown to lower the risk of some cancers, improve memory, and increase urinary-tract health. The main benefit of blue and purple foods is increased circulation and microcirculation. A few of our favorite blue/purple foods are:
- Blueberries – Blueberries are high in fiber (2.4 g per 2/3 cup), vitamin E and C, and antioxidants. Eating blueberries has been linked to improved cholesterol, increased urinary-tract health, and a boost in brain activity.
- Blackberries – These nutrient-packed berries are high in fiber, vitamin K (promotes calcium absorption and bone health), and high in antioxidants that improve overall health. Research has also linked blackberries to increased immunity, improved heart health, lower cholesterol, and decreased cancer risk.
- Plums – Plums are high in vitamin B, which helps metabolize carbohydrates, proteins, and fat. High in vitamin K, plums also help promote bone health.
- Eggplant – In addition to being high in fiber (8 percent of your daily needs), eggplant is also high in vitamin C, calcium, and phosphorus which promote strong bones and teeth.
Other Blue/Purple Foods
Other blue and purple foods to try are black currants, dried plums, elderberries, purple figs, purple grapes, raisins, purple asparagus, purple cabbage, purple carrots, black salsify, purple-fleshed potatoes, and purple Belgin endive.
While many white foods are refined, like white bread and white rice, there are a lot of white foods that are packed with nutrients. White fruits and veggies have been linked to lower cholesterol, decreased blood pressure, and a lower risk of heart disease. The key benefit of white foods is increased immunity. Eating white foods helps enhance the immune system, the lymph systems, and aids in cellular recovery. Here are a few of our go-to white foods and their specific benefits:
- Garlic – In the same family as chives and onions, this powerful, potent food has been linked to heart health and decreased cancer risk. Garlic also has anti-microbial compounds.
- Onions – In addition to having powerful sulfur-bearing compounds that work as anti-microbial agents (similar to garlic), onions have also been shown to help lower blood sugar levels and improve heart health by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. Onions are also high in the flavonoid quercetin, which has been linked to cell protection and slower tumor growth.
- Cauliflower – High in powerful antioxidants such as manganese and vitamin C. One cup of cauliflower has 52 mg of vitamin C, compared to 64 mg in a medium orange. This healthy food has also been linked to increased immunity.
Other White Foods
A few other healthy white foods include ginger, turnips, and jicama, white corn, turnips, shallots, white potatoes, parsnips, mushrooms, kohlrabi, Jerusalem artichoke, white peaches, and white nectarines.