In many cultures, yellow is the color of happiness and optimism, of enlightenment and creativity, sunshine and spring. It’s said that bright colors like yellow can be an instant mood booster. In fact, some fast food restaurants use yellow as the main color in their interior design and logo (you know which one 😉 to signify happiness and full stomach (yellow & orange are appetite stimulants). When I think of yellow, I think of sunflowers, bees, dandelions, and sunshine… Indeed a very uplifting color! Now I think of the beautiful sunflower field at Lochland Botanicals that we visited this summer.
When it comes to food, yellow fruits and vegetables can be a nutritional powerhouse! They’re often packed with antioxidants like carotenoids, Vitamin C and polyphenols. These components help fight inflammations and boost immunity. They’re beneficial to skin, eye, digestive, and heart health. Often times these yellow goodness are also rich in potassium and fibre. (We all know the benefit of fibre to our digestive health!)
Benefits of eating yellow and orange fruits and veggies
- Aids in eye health and reduces the risk of macular degeneration of the eye
- Reduces the risk of prostate cancer
- Lowers blood pressure
- Lowers LDL cholesterol
- Promotes healthy joints
- Promotes collagen formation (healthy skin and digestive lining)
- Fights harmful free radicals in the body (antioxidant property)
- Encourages pH balance of the body
- Boosts immune system
- Builds healthier bones by working with calcium and magnesium
What makes them yellow / orange?
Here are the phytonutrients that contribute to the yellow and orange hue in fruits and vegetables:
Our body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A (retinol), which is important for healthy skin and mucus membranes, our immune system, and good eye health and vision. It is also an antioxidant which help defend our body against unstable molecules called free radicals.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin
These two has very similar chemical structures and often work together to improve our eye health by cancelling out free radicals that are generated when eyes are exposed to oxygen and light (which is normal and happens almost all the time…). Studies also suggest that they’re beneficial to skin health.
Lutein has now been linked to improvements in brain health, cognitive function, memory and even mood. Other than yellow and orange color fruits and vegetables, these carotenoids are also commonly found in dark leafy greens.
The phytonutrients above are all grouped as Carotenoids.
It has been reported that flavonoids are important for human health because of their antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral, and anti‐inflammatory activities. Besides, studies also suggest that they have potential to improve coronary vasodilatation and prevent LDLs from oxidizing and also showed potential neuroprotective effects. Moreover, flavonoids have been used in the food industry due to their ability to preserve foods, to provide colour and flavour and to make dietary supplements, among other important industrial applications.
Easy ways to add more yellow & orange fruits and veggies in your diets
It’s always best to incorporate fresh fruits and veggies in our diet as minimally processed as possible as (phyto)nutrients like carotenoids and Vitamin C are less stable after exposure to heat. Here’s a coconut yogurt that I mixed with fresh mango and passion fruits – such a quick, refreshing and yummy snack! Love these tropical flavours!
What about adding some corn to the regular pico de gallo and turn it into a delicious corn salsa to top this Buffalo shrimp lettuce wrap? Other than corn, the romaine lettuce and lime in this dish are also rich in carotenoids along with many other nutrients like vitamin C & K, folate, molybdenum & manganese…
Instead of the regular rice, pasta, potato, or bread as the main starch, why not pairing your protein with some roasted butternut squash instead? Here’s an oven roasted Maple Mustard Salmon with a Butternut Squash & Kale warm salad.
- Here’s a handy “color chart” for healthy fruits and vegetables – the chart lays out the major beneficial (phyto)nutrients correspond to each color group of fruits and vegetables.
- All you need to know about beta carotene from Medical News Today
- 10 Reasons to Eat Orange and Yellow Fruits and Veggies from Healthy Michigan
- Lutein and Zeaxanthin: Benefits, Dosage and Food Sources from Healthline
- Flavonoids: Important Biocompounds in Food (peer reviewed) from IntechOpen
- The Psychology of Restaurant Interior Design, Part 1: Color from Fohlio