Fall has finally arrived—and after the dog days of summer we’ve experienced this year, it’s a welcome relief. Not only does fall signal cooler days, but it also brings in the harvest season and bountiful colors, too.
The fall palette isn’t limited to the leaves changing, however. You can find healthy foods that correspond with the red, orange, orange-yellow, yellow, brown, purple-blue and green that characterize this much-anticipated season.
The truth is that you’ll find plenty of nutrients in these vibrant colors. For example, did you know that the vivid colors in vegetables and fruits come from phytochemicals like anthocyanins, phenolics, lutein, indoles, flavonoids and carotenoids? And while these names might be tricky to say, and even trickier to spell, these nutrients help the body maintain optimal health.
Pigments with health-promoting properties color every fruit and vegetable, and their benefits are unique to each color. For instance, red-blue fruits and veggies such as blueberries and red cabbage are colored by the phytochemical anthocyanin. Orange and yellow vegetables and fruits contain plant pigments called carotenoids that give them their hues, while green vegetables owe their pigments to chlorophyll.
Another phytochemical known as lycopene is the reason why tomatoes, grapefruit and watermelons are red. The nutrient fucoxanthin is a pigment that makes brown seaweed brown. White veggies and fruits are colored by pigments called anthoxanthins. All these phytochemical pigments offer antioxidant protection as well as other health benefits.
There is a proverbial feast to be found in fall colors, so enjoy the colors of the season with these foods:
• Red: tomatoes and tomato sauces, raspberries, apples, beets, strawberries, cranberries, pomegranates, cherries, red peppers, radishes, rhubarb, pink grapefruit and watermelon
• Purple-blue: plums, grapes, blueberries, blackberries, red cabbage, figs, raisins, black beans, and eggplant
• Orange: oranges, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, carrots, winter squash, apricots, orange peppers, and mangoes
• Orange-yellow: tangerines, peaches, papayas, pineapples, orange-yellow peppers, and nectarines
• Yellow: lemons, corn, yellow peppers, yellow apples and yellow squash
• Green: salad greens, kiwi, broccoli, avocados, Brussels sprouts, chives, green onions, parsley, peas, green beans, asparagus, cucumbers, zucchini, cilantro, spinach, green peppers, Swiss chard, and kale
• White-green: celery, asparagus, honeydew, green apples and pears
• White: mushrooms, onions, cauliflower, garlic, leeks, shallots, bananas, turnips, ginger and bamboo shoots
Look around and take in the colors of fall. They’re pleasing to the eye and satisfying to your palate.