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How Colorful Vegetables Benefit Our Health

The Creative Vegetable GardenerIt doesn’t surprise me to learn there are medical benefits when it comes to the color of our vegetables. I love color in the food I prepare for my family and friends. My summer salads are always vibrant with different colored tomatoes, cucumbers, grated carrots and zucchini, sliced olives, colored bell peppers, grapes and anything else that’s appealing both for taste and the eyes. All nestled on a bed of different lettuces each with its own texture. During winter months I mix up coleslaw with green and red cabbages, add a bit of apple and/or mandarins. I usually buy a bottle of coleslaw dressing, but would love a good recipe from scratch.

Yet, we’ve always heard there’s no real healthy benefit to salads. Wrong.

colorful vegetables | iStockphoto.com/pilipphoto 

Photo: iStockphoto.com/pilipphoto

Let’s talk about the power of color in vegetables and fruits.

Red color is said to promote heart health, lower cancer risks, and protects against memory loss. I’m beginning to think I need more red veggies in my diet. One can only claim a “senior moment” just so many times.

What’s red in the veggie kingdom? Beets, strawberries, red bell pepper, cranberries, tomatoes, radishes, raspberries, cherries, blood oranges, pomegranates, red grapefruit, red potatoes and watermelon.

Orange and Yellow colored vegetables are said to support the immune system and vision health, reduce cancer risk, promote collagen formation and healthy joints.

Select from carrots, yellow peppers, cantaloupe, pumpkin, corn, sweet potatoes, oranges, mangoes, peaches, apricots, and yellow squash.

Green color is said to promote vision health, lower blood pressure, normalize digestion time, boost immune system, and reduce cancer risk.

Green vegetables to choose from are dark lettuce, kiwifruit, avocadoes, cucumbers, celery, honeydew, green beans, leeks, okra, broccoli, and asparagus.

Blue and Purple is said to increase memory function, lower LDL cholesterol, improve urinary tract health, reduce cancer risk, and encourage healthful aging.  

Blue and Purple fruits and vegetables include purple cabbage, purple grapes, blackberries, blueberries, figs, plums, eggplant and raisins.

There are, of course, many other fruits and vegetables that fit in these color categories, but this list is a place to start your healthier eating habits. If your family hates anything green, as most kids seem to do, try mixing a small amount of a green veggie into other colors. Of course you might find a pile of little green bits on the floor beside the dinner table. My grandson hates anything green, except for peas. I think it’s because he’s a vegetarian and has had too many green vegetables. As for me, I am not a vegetarian, but I don’t particularly care for certain green veggies either. However, I now have an appreciation for the power of that color in our health management and will try to include it more in our meals.

When you’re planning your garden next year you might keep in mind the health benefits of color.

Visit Karen's website for more information on creative gardening.