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Why it’s important to have and maintain a colorful diet
Have you ever thought as to why a banana is yellow, an orange, well orange, and a strawberry, red?
The colors of fruits and vegetables are directly linked to the plant pigment that they contain.
But what are these different pigments? Do they have an impact on our health and which ones are worth having?
The different colors of your food
The pigments, responsible for the color of our fruits and vegetables develop as the plants mature. They all have antioxidant properties that vary in strength.
Green – chlorophyll
Chlorophyll is a fat-soluble pigment that enables photosynthesis (the production of oxygen through water and the sun.
This pigment helps reduce the risk of cancer. In addition, chlorophyll can lower blood pressure by promoting blood circulation and fluidifying the blood.
It can also help freshen your breath!
This pigment is responsible for the green color of fruits and vegetables such as courgettes, spinach, peas, green beans and kiwis.
Yellow to orange and then red – carotenoids
Carotenoids are liposoluble pigments that lead to yellow or orange pigmentation. They allow plants to achieve photosynthesis and prevent excess energy from damaging plants. In summary, it is the carotenoids that prevent plants from being overly heated by the sun.
There are two types:
Beta-carotene is the most well known. It can be found in lots of fruits and vegetables.
It is often referred to as provitamin A because beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A when it is absorbed by the body. It is said to be precursor for vitamin A.
“Eating carrots will turn you orange!” This saying gets thrown around an awful lot, but in reality, it’s not completely false. Beta-carotene activates and prolongs tanning by boosting the synthesis of melanin and thus protects the skin against damaging UV rays from the sun.
In addition to its antioxidant properties, beta-carotene plays a role in the prevention of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
This pigment is the reason why carrots, pumpkins and oranges are all orange.
Lutein is a fat-soluble pigment present in high concentration in the retina of the eye and more specifically in the macula.
This concentration helps to protect the eye from intense light by filtering blue light. This reduces the risk of eye problems such as cataracts or age-related macular degeneration.
Lutein also increases the amount of lipids present on the skin which improves its tolerance to the sun and therefore its resistance to sunburn.
You will find this antioxidant pigment in egg yolk but also in yellow vegetables such as corn, yellow carrots and yellow peppers. Surprisingly, lutein is also present in dark green vegetables such as spinach or sorrel.
Lycopene is a liposoluble carotenoid that provides red coloring to fruits and vegetables.
Unlike other pigments, lycopene is not sensitive to heat. In fact, a rise in temperature will actually increase the amount of lycopene present in a plant.
This powerful antioxidant reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and osteoporosis. In addition, it plays an important role in the prevention of prostate cancer.
Lycopene is present in pink grapefruit, tomatoes, strawberries, red peppers and watermelon.
This plant pigment is an antioxidant similar to lutein.
Zeaxanthin is also found in the macula of the retina of the eye and it also plays a role in the filtration of blue light and the elimination of free radicals.
Like lutein, its presence in the body is entirely dependent on the food we eat as it is cannot be naturally synthesized.
Zeaxanthin is responsible for giving corn kennels their yellow pigment. It can also be found in green cabbage, spinach and squash.
Astaxanthin is a fat-soluble pigment and a powerful antioxidant that protects cells against free radicals.
It plays a role in protecting the eyes, preventing cancer and has anti-inflammatory properties that help ensure the proper functioning of the digestive system.
This pigment turns crustaceans, salmon and sea bream, pink.
From pink to red and then black – anthocyanins
Anthocyanins are water-soluble pigments from the flavonoid family. They range in color from red to violet through to blue to black.
In addition to its antioxidant properties, anthocyanin plays a vital role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease.
It also improves the elasticity of the skin and vision.
At Feed. we use natural food dyes such as beetroot, elderberry concentrate, aronia and blackcurrant.
All the pigments used within our recipes are powerful antioxidants. They play varying but equally important roles in ensuring our health. This is why it is important to have a rich and varied diet in terms of not just food, but also color.