The world of nutrition has undergone a revolution in recent decades. Plants such as vegetables have been found to contain tens of thousands of active ingredients that offer far-reaching health benefits. These substances are called phytochemicals (phyto = plant in Greek). Some phytochemicals are pigments (colors). These pigments and phytochemicals are abundantly healthy.
The red color — contributes to fighting cancer and heart disease.
The oranges color — maintains proper function of the immune system and fights cancer.
The green color — slows the ageing of the eye, maintains healthy vision and strengthens bones.
The white color — helps maintain vascular and cardiac health and wards off bacteria and infection.
The purple color — slows ageing processes such as that of the brain.
Tomatoes are rich in the red pigment lycopene. Lycopene is an effective antioxidant that contributes to reducing the risk for various types of cancer, such as prostate cancer. Lycopene and other components of the tomato also help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C and are a source of vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin K, potassium and dietary fiber.
Layer after layer, the onion offers aroma, flavor and powerful healthful properties. The sulfur compounds that are unique to the onion and members of its family help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancers such as stomach cancer and more. Onions are rich in quercetin -an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and also provide B vitamins and vitamin C.
Green lettuce contains chlorophyll and is rich in the yellow-green pigment lutein. Lutein is an antioxidant that contributes to slowing the ageing of the eye and maintaining healthy vision. Lettuce provides an abundance of nutritional components which help to reduce the risk of disease and contribute to bone health: vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, folate and other B vitamins, potassium, iron and dietary fiber.
Purple cabbage is rich in purple pigments known as anthocyanins, which are antioxidants that contribute to slowing ageing processes, such as that of the brain. They also fight atherosclerosis as well as cardiovascular disease. As part of the Brassicaceae family, this cabbage contains anticancer substances. Purple cabbage is rich in vitamin C and provides vitamin A, B vitamins, vitamin K, potassium, iron, calcium and dietary fiber.
Carrots contain yellow-orange pigments from the carotene family, such as beta-carotene and alpha-carotene. These carotenes contribute to reducing the risk of cancer and also serve as a source of vitamin A. This vitamin is vital to vision, and in particular night vision, as well as to maintaining proper immune system function, healthy skin and normal growth. Carrots provide five different B vitamins as well as vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K and potassium and are rich in dietary fiber.
Clinical Dietitian, M.Sc.
Scientific Advisor to the Plants Production & Marketing Board