Guest blog by Felicia Drury Kliment
Author of Eat Right for Your Metabolism: The Individualized Diet Plan to Balance Body Chemistry, Lose Weight, and Prevent Disease
When choosing vegetables and fruits, select a rainbow of colors to ensure you gain the entire range of benefits they offer. The various pigments in plants confer particular health benefits.
Red and purple plants -- grapes, blueberries, strawberries, beets, eggplant, red cabbage, red peppers, plums, and red apples -- contain antioxidants that prevent the formation of blood clots.
Yellow and green plants -- spinach, collards, corn, green peas, avocado, and honeydew -- include the pigments lutein and zeaxanthin, which help heal cataracts and macular degeneration and also reduce the risk of developing these eye problems.
Orange plants -- carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and mangoes -- have alpha carotene, a cancer fighter, and beta carotene, which helps repair damaged DNA. Oranges, peaches, papaya, and nectarines support the transmission of nerve impulses between cells and strengthen the cardiovascular system.
Green vegetables -- broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, and bok choy -- have anticancer properties.
Vegetables also help raise mineral levels in the body -- provided there are enough fat-soluble vitamins A and D in the diet to assimilate the minerals. Because individuals who have excessive levels of some minerals are usually deficient in others, they need to eat more of the vegetables that will normalize their deficient mineral levels and less of those that contain large amounts of the minerals in which they are oversupplied. Because it is in the pigment of plants that many of the minerals and other nutrients in plants are stored, the choice of vegetables depends to some extent upon color. For example, anyone with a potassium deficiency needs green, leafy plants because the dark green pigment in these leafy plants contains high levels of potassium; on the other hand, eating white, orange, yellow, and light green plants increases calcium levels in the body. When we lack a particular nutrient, we also lack one of the pigments that store this nutrient.