You can use the colors of fruits and vegetables to help guide your dietary levels of antioxidants, which is extremely important component for your diet.
Antioxidants are substances that help to cut down on oxidation — a process that occurs normally in the body but can run rampant and damage your body’s cells (especially in the presence of toxins). Antioxidants help keep oxidation under control, and an overwhelming amount of research shows that including plenty of antioxidants in your diet will make you healthier across the board.
Here's a look at the rainbow of fruit and vegetable options and the antioxidants that you can find in each color.
Red fruit and vegetables
Plenty of red fruits and vegetables are available, and many can provide you with wonderfully healthy antioxidants. Take red kidney beans, for example. They’re loaded with antioxidants! Red kidney beans have antioxidant levels that are as high as or higher than many berries that are commonly regarded as antioxidant powerhouses. Red berries and other red fruits; raspberries, cherries, red apples, and strawberries are excellent sources of antioxidants, too.
Red tomatoes have a specific kind of antioxidant that is particularly important for men. You can find abundant amounts of lycopene in tomatoes, and lycopene has been shown to contribute to the health of the prostate gland.
That doesn’t mean that women should discount the health benefits of eating tomatoes, of course — just that men should keep it in mind when deciding whether or not to put a slice of tomato on their sandwiches or add another spoonful of sauce to their pasta.
Here’s one other specific antioxidant that you can find in red fruits: resveratrol. Resveratrol has been shown to decrease the growth of cancer cells, help nerve cells stay healthy in diabetics, and also decrease heart disease by helping to maintain blood vessels. You can find resveratrol in red grape skins and also in red wine.
Blue and purple vegetables and fruit
Fresh vegetables and fruits that are blue or purple may not be as common as those in shades of green or red, but a few blue and purple foods can provide you with some terrific antioxidant benefits.
Start with plums and their dried counterparts, prunes. Both make great snacks, and they’re packed with antioxidants. You can also go for blackberries; they’re a little tough to find out of season, but when they’re available try to mix them into your diet for an antioxidant boost.
The king of the antioxidant-rich blue foods is the blueberry. You often hear blueberries referred to as one of the “superfoods,” and that’s not just clever marketing. Blueberries are chock-full of beneficial antioxidants, and they also contain many of the vitamins you need to stay healthy. Load up on blueberries when you can, and keep in mind that the darker the blueberry, the more healthy materials you can find inside.
On the vegetable side of things, try eggplant for a blue or purple food that can provide you with an antioxidant kick.
Orange produce for antioxidant power
Orange (and yellow) members of the fruit and vegetable groups are famous for containing beta-carotene, an antioxidant that is thought to help protect against eye disease and some forms of cancer. If you’re looking to give your beta-carotene levels a boost, try orange foods like carrots, pumpkin, and winter squash. Orange and yellow fruits that contain ample antioxidants include nectarines, oranges, lemons, peaches, and grapefruit.
Green vegetables are good for you
Green vegetables make up a big part of the produce section, and they should also make up a substantial part of your diet. From peas to turnip greens to Brussels sprouts and even sea vegetables like kelp, green vegetables help you give your body all sorts of healthy substances, antioxidants included.
Broccoli packs an extremely healthy punch. Broccoli contains lots of sulforaphane, an antioxidant that has been receiving a lot of attention from researchers lately because it helps the body get rid of toxins, supports the immune system, and can even slow down tumors.