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Importance of Colorful Plants in a Healthy Diet!

2 min read

It is a sight to watch so many people voluntarily wearing unison of “Navrang” during Navratri festival. We love colors here in our country, don’t we?

Did you know that once upon a time (when the silk route existed), India was the primary producer and the supplier of the priced “Indigo Blue” textile dye?

Enough with trivia, today we are here to discuss different plant pigments (ones that make your fruits and veggies colorful) and their health benefits. So here is a look at some of the prominant natural plant pigments-

 

1. The Blues (Anthocyanins): Literally means flower blue.

Anthocyanins are the plant pigments that give your fruits and veggies their blue hue. Flavonoids in this groups render foods different colors ranging from blue to purple to red.

Health Benefits of Anthocyanin Consumption:

Anthocyanins are powerful antioxidants by nature. Antioxidants are shown to improve the body’s capacity to fight free radicals generated due to aging, poor lifestyle choices and polluted surroundings. There is plenty of in-vitro research showing antioxidant properties of anthocyanins but no animal let alone human studies.

Food Sources:

Bringal, Blackberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, Cherries, Jamun, Jujube/ber, red cabbage, sweet potatoes etc.

 

2. The Greens (Chlorophyll)

The most abundant of all the plant pigments, chlorophyll is the easiest to find and consume. It is the phytochemical that the plants use for photosynthesis. There are several perceived health benefits of Chlorophyllin(a derivative). Some of them are-

Health Benefits of Chlorophyll Consumption:

  • reduces inflammation
  • reduce bacterial growth in wounds
  • topical acne medication
  • detoxification
  • possible cancer prevention
  • possible weight loss aid
  • natural deodorant

Food Sources:

Green Leafy Vegetables, Blue-green algae, sprouts, wheatgrass, matcha (green tea), seaweed, broccoli, peas etc.

 

3. The Oranges (Carotenoids)

You must have heard that carrots and pumpkins are good for eyes! That they are rich in Vitamin A (B-Carotene, a precursor of Vit A.) Just like B carotene here, all these orange-to-yellow hued fruits, veggies, leaves, and even egg yolk contain different carotenoids. These acts as accessory pigments in the photosynthesis. Lycopene in tomatoes is also a carotenoid.

Health Benefits of Carotenoid Consumption:

  • possible protective effect against multiple types of cancer
  • antiaging
  • improves vision
  • antiinflammatory

Food Sources:

Carrots, Tomatoes, Papaya, Pumpkin, Sweet Potato, Orange, Apricots

 

4. Betalains (the reds!)

These plant pigments are named after, guess which veggie?

Beetroots of course! For it gives a reddish, dark pinkish to yellowish hue to any fruit or veggie it presents in.

Health Benefits of Betalain Consumption:

  • Antiinflammatory
  • potent antioxidants
  • Protects heart against plaques

Food Sources:

Beetroots, Red Amaranth leaves (laal math!), red dragon fruit, cactus fruit etc.

Now those were 4 most prominent plant pigment classes found in the everyday produce that we consume.

Take Home Message

Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis to get an array of nutrients and to reap their health benefits.

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