They say we eat with our eyes, not just our stomachs, and this includes the colors of our food. From shiny red apples to dark green kale, you can tell how fresh and full of flavor food is by the color. As you prepare your kitchen for clean eating, it helps to have an idea of what the colors of your food are telling you.
Here are some tidbits about food colors, how they impact your meal, and why you should care about what’s on your plate.
Plant Extract Color
Plant extracts like olive oil and CBD oil change based on processing, freshness, and other factors. For the greatest benefits of CBD oil and plant oils, the darker the extract, the greater the concentration of plant matter it contains. This means clear to pale yellow CBD oil isn’t as effective as deep green or brown CBD oil.
CBD oil is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and contains vitamins, including vitamin B and D.
Beta-carotene is the pigment that makes carrots, sweet potatoes, and peppers orange. Vegetables rich in beta-carotene are usually full of vitamin A. Vitamin A helps with areas such as:
- Immune system
- Reproductive organs
- Cell repair and growth
Vitamin A promotes the generation of photoreceptor rhodopsin, the photoreceptor molecule used by our eyes to let us see. Vitamin A is also an antioxidant, which means it fights oxidative damage, preventing early aging and protecting your skin and organs.
Lycopene is a carotenoid found in vegetables like tomatoes, papaya, and pink grapefruit. Chemically, lycopene is considered a carotenoid, but unlike carotene, it has no vitamin A.
While fresh foods are healthier for human consumption, research shows that lycopene is more concentrated in processed foods like ketchup. This is because the water has largely evaporated, concentrating the carotenoid.
Lycopene is an antioxidant. It prevents oxidative damage to your skin and organs. Brightening up your salads with splashes of red does more than just add to the aesthetics of your culinary masterpiece. You can also enjoy benefits, such as reduced risks for certain cancers, including pancreatic and prostate cancer.
Blue and deep purple foods like blueberries, eggplant, purple cauliflower, and black currents take on this hue because of a flavonoid called anthocyanin.
Anthocyanin can cause your food to take on different colors, including blue, purple, and even black. The depth of color depends on the saturation of anthocyanin in the produce.
Blue foods are another rich source of antioxidants. Recent studies have found that anthocyanin has a positive impact on heart disease. This means adding more blue and purple foods to your plate is a heart-smart move and a colorful one at that.
Deep Green Mixes
Dark green veggies like spinach, kale, and broccoli get their color from a few different sources, including gray pheophytin, orange carotenes, and blue/green chlorophyll. Green leafy vegetables add several benefits to your diet, including:
- High fiber for better digestion
- Calcium for healthy teeth and bones
- Iron for red blood cell production
- Magnesium for muscle and nerve function
- Vitamin B for heart health
- Folate for cell growth
Besides these benefits, chlorophyll, which gives green veg its color, stimulates the immune system and improves thyroid function. Your thyroid regulates metabolism. Therefore, chlorophyll could impact your mood and energy levels.
Which Color Is Best?
There is no best color for food. Each has its own benefits. You may choose to add more of one color to your diet to boost certain vitamins or nutrients you lack. For example, people with low iron are often encouraged to eat more leafy greens.
You can’t go wrong by adding a little bit of everything to your daily digestion. Just remember that everything is best in moderation. Too much of any one food could cause adverse dietary effects, such as the phenomenon of orange skin caused by eating too many carrots.
Choosing Food by Color
The color of your food impacts your health and energy levels. The best foods are fresh, ripe, whole foods with deep coloring. Generally, the deeper the color, the richer the source of vitamins and antioxidants in that food.
You may notice that foods that stain your fingers, like pomegranate and blueberries, have high concentrations of antioxidants. This comes from those pigmenting sources like anthocyanin. Consider the colors you add to your plate as you build your meals. Food isn’t just beautiful to look at; it can do beautiful things for your body.