University of Iowa Health Science Relations
First Published: 2004
Last Revised: April 2004
Peer Review Status: Internally Peer Reviewed
The more reds, oranges, greens, yellows, and blues you eat, the more health-promoting
properties you get from your diet.
Reds and bright pink foods add lycopene, a powerful antioxidant, to your diet.
Lycopene can be found in tomatoes, grapefruits, watermelon, papaya, and guava.
Lycopene is being studied for its ability to fight heart disease and some
Green foods are rich in phytochemicals that help keep you healthy. Carotenoids
lutein and zeaxanthin, found in spinach, kale, and broccoli, are being studied
for their ability to keep your retina strong. Vegetables like cabbage, Brussels
sprouts, cauliflower, and turnips may reduce the risk of cancerous tumors.
Oranges and yellows
Orange foods like sweet potatoes, mangoes, carrots, and apricots contain beta-carotene,
a natural antioxidant being studied for its role in enhancing the immune
system. Orange food is also rich in vitamin C and vitamin E. Yellow foods
have many of the same benefits as orange foods.
Blues and purples
Anthocyanins, a photochemical responsible for the blue hues in foods like blueberries,
is being studied for its role in defending the body against carcinogens.
White foods like onions, garlic, chives, and leeks contain the photochemical
allicin, which is being studied for its ability to lower cholesterol and
blood pressure and increase the body's ability to fight infections.