Colorful produce nutrition. Including an array of colorful plants in your babe’s diet helps meet their micronutrient needs. The colors of fruits and veggies each indicate different nutrition benefits. Here’s why and how to offer colorful fruits and vegetables to your family.
You may have heard the saying “eat the rainbow”, either in relation to some of America’s favorite candies or adapted to mean including colorful fruits and veggies in your diet.
We prefer to use it in the latter sense. 🙂
Fruits and veggies are of course full of fiber (especially when they’re eaten with their skin still intact), an incredibly important nutrient for health. But did you know that the different color categories of produce actually have unique nutritional indications?
While we certainly love when kiddos enjoy eating any fruit or veggie, we also recommend offering an array of colorful produce for this reason.
This post covers some of what the different colors of fruits and veggies offer when it comes to micronutrients and other healthy plant compounds.
Plus, while we fully support offer raw fruits and veggies regularly, we’ve also included some creative recipes to help feed your family the rainbow.
Examples: red bell peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries, red apples, beets, red grapes, cherries, watermelon
Red fruits and veggies are particularly high in lycopene and ellagic acid, two antioxidant-rich plant compounds that can help reduce cancer risk, protect heart health, and lower inflammation.
- Roasted Red Pepper and Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus
- Vegan Strawberry Pudding
- Vegan Watermelon Caprese Salad
- Beet Sliders with Creamy Herb Spread
- Sweet Cherry Lime Popsicles
Examples: orange and yellow bell peppers, carrots, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, mangoes, sweet potatoes, squash, corn, pumpkin, cantaloupe, peaches, pineapple
Orange and yellow fruits and veggies are rich in the antioxidant vitamin C, as well as carotenoids like beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A.
Vitamin A is critical for vision, reproductive health, and healthy kidneys, lungs, and heart function.
Vitamin C plays a big role in immunity and wound healing. It also boosts collagen production to keep joints and skin healthy and strong. Lastly, vitamin C helps boost iron absorption from other foods.
Additionally, citrus fruits in particular contain a compound called hesperidin, which supports healthy blood circulation and potentially helps protect brain health.
- Carrot Cake Chickpea Balls
- Mummy Carrot Dogs
- Vegan Pumpkin Fudge
- Sweet Potato Hummus Quesadillas
- Mango Coconut Cream Popsicles
Examples: kale, spinach, collard and mustard greens, Swiss chard, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, lettuce, green grapes, green apples. asparagus, kiwi, green beans, peas, zucchini, arugula, edamame, avocado
Green produce is an excellent source of vitamin K, a critical nutrient for blood clotting and bone health, as well as iron and vitamin C.
They’re also full of folate, an essential B vitamin for pregnant women and to prevent neural tube defects in babies. Folate is needed for cell health and DNA production.
Green plants also contain the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which support vision and normal eye health, and potentially help protect skin from sun damage.
- Anti-Inflammatory Green Juice
- Crispy Kale Chips
- Avocado “Cheese” Dip
- Pea and Asparagus Soup
- Healthy Creamed Spinach
Examples: blueberries, purple grapes, prunes, plums, blackberries, eggplant, purple cabbage
Blue and purple fruits and veggies are full of phytonutrients called anthocyanins (responsible for their pigment) and resveratrol, which may help reduce cancer risk, support heart health, and protect the body from oxidative damage that can lead to disease.
- Blueberry Walnuts Muffin Tops
- Blueberry Chickpea Cookie Dough Balls
- Moroccan Eggplant “Meatballs”
- Peach Kale and Red Cabbage Slaw
- Prune Bars
Examples: cauliflower, mushrooms, onions, garlic, potatoes, jicama, turnips, parsnips
These may not be as beautifully colored as some of the other plants, but that doesn’t make them any less important.
White and brown fruits and veggies like garlic and onions are part of the Allium family, which contain the cancer-fighting compounds allicin and quercetin, as well as anti-inflammatory polyphenols.
Cauliflower is rich in another anti-cancer compound called sulforaphane, and mushrooms are full of phytonutrients that may inhibit cancer cell proliferation.
- Savory Pizza Oat Bakes
- Caramelized Onion Dip with Baked Potato Chips
- Vegan Garlic Herb White Pizza
- Creamy Carrot Cauliflower Soup
- Vegan Potato Salad
We think colorful produce nutrition is a fascinating part of our natural food system. Hopefully this quick guide helps you offer colorful fruits and vegetables to your family and enjoy the nutrients found in all the colors of fruits and veggies.
Chime In: What are some of your family’s favorite fruits and veggies?
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