The 3 benefits of the Color of Vegetables discussed here expand to much more. However, to simplify, let's categorize the benefits of the color of vegetables into three broad categories: (post contains affiliate links)
(This post contains affiliate links).
I. Color Provides Minerals
The four main minerals in vegetables are magnesium, potassium, manganese, and iron.
Magnesium is found in ALL green vegetables. If you read my previous post on magnesium, you already know that magnesium is the central atom in the chlorophyll molecule.
Magnesium protects against depression and prevents excess blood clots. It also helps the body digest nutrients, and builds strong bones.
Potassium and sodium are important for fluid regulation in the cells. When there is enough potassium in the diet, sodium and potassium are in balance. This regulates the amount of fluid your cells hold. However, if not enough potassium is eaten, water retention occurs.
For example, excess water in the cells causes the heart and kidneys to work harder. Sufficient potassium in the diet will fight against high blood pressure and protect the heart and kidneys.
Potassium rich vegetables include potatoes, including sweet potatoes, beet greens, swiss chard, and lima beans.
The benefits of manganese include prevention of Epileptic seizures. In addition, manganese helps control blood sugar levels in Diabetics. Manganese is also important for healthy bones and protects against bone fractures.
Vegetables rich in manganese include lima beans, lentils, and green leafy vegetables.
Iron has been discussed previously. However, it is an important mineral in the formation of healthy red blood cells and for preventing anemia.
Lentils, spinach, chick peas (garbanzo beans), and collard greens are all high in iron. See below for my delicious Lentil Stew recipe.
II. Color Provides Vitamins
Vitamins A, C, B6, and Folate are four vitamins that are abundant in all vegetables, regardless of color.
Deficiency of vitamin A results in dry skin, eczema, dry eyes, and night blindness. Also, vitamin A deficiency is associated with acne, stunted growth, and infertility.
Vegetables high in vitamin A include kale, pumpkin, carrots, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes.
As mentioned previously, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that fights infection and protects skin cells from sun damage. As a result, deficiency of vitamin C results in scurvy, poor wound healing, reduced immunity.
Vegetables high in vitamin C include broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, and bell pepper
Vitamin B6 is essential for protein metabolism and healthy nerve function. Also, vitamin B6 is important in forming red blood cells.
Foods rich in vitamin B6 include carrots and spinach.
Protects against Birth Defects
III. Color Provides Unique Phytonutrients
I have written previously about phytonutrients. So, I don't want to bore you here. Just a quick summary with a link to the original post will suffice, I hope. 🙂
Lycopenes are found in tomatoes, red bell peppers, beets, and other red vegetables. Click here to read more.
Beta-Carotene and other carotenoids are found in carrots, yellow and orange bell peppers, pumpkins and sweet potatoes.
Anthocyanins are found in blue, purple and red vegetables. One interesting tidbit I didn't mention previously is that the anthocyanins change color depending on the pH of the food. For example, science experiments on acid and base result in red cabbage changing color.
The fact that chlorophyll is the basis for the green in plants and that it has magnesium at the center of its molecule fascinates me. Read more about chlorophyll here.
Green vegetables include avocado, asparagus, broccoli, spinach, green beans, and green peas.
Anthoxanthins are antioxidants and are found in white/colorless/brown vegetables. So, expect anthoxanthins to be in garlic, onion, mushrooms, parsnips, turnips, radishes, and lentils.
As most of you know, I'm working on education materials. I am designing these materials to help you more easily communicate to your kids the importance of eating fruits and vegetables.
I'm also hoping these materials will help you and your kids meet educational standards requirements. So far, I've produced pre-k to kindergarten fruit color matching and vegetable color matching. When I am finished, there will be something for all ages!
Lentil Tomato Spinach Stew
- 8 ounces Dried Lentils (1/2 package) Don't need to soak before cooking
- 4.5 cups Water
- 2 cloves Garlic
- 1/2 cup Onions chopped
- 1 14.5 ounce can Tomatoes (no salt)
- 6 oz Spinach Fresh (can use frozen, thawed, 5 oz)
- 2 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon Oregano, dried
- 1/8 teaspoon Black Pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons Parsley, fresh or 1 teaspoon dried
- 2 tablespoons Olive Oil