Green Food Color Health Benefits

Green fruits and vegetables

Have you ever wondered why plant foods are so vibrant and appealing? Well, these pigments serve many purposes. For a start, these colorful pigments are attractive to other species, including human beings, who think they look good enough to eat. And then there are the bees who pollinate the plants by the power of color (fun fact — bees love the color blue).

These pigments aren’t just for show, they also serve as defense mechanisms. For example, some of the pigments deter invaders from eating them by releasing antibacterial solutions and bitter tastes to put them off. The health benefits of plant foods come from these phytochemicals, notably their potential for disease prevention.

When it comes to green foods, their naturally-occurring nutrients are renowned for their ability to support several different aspects of heart health. You’ve probably already heard of polyphenols and their antioxidant powers, but there are others too!

Polyphenols are the micronutrients that occur naturally in edible plants that are good for the body and your gut microbiome.

What is oxidative stress?

If your body has an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants, then it is experiencing oxidative stress. Eating the right foods is the best way to combat it.

In short, free radicals are pests. They are molecules which contain oxygen but have an uneven number of electrons, which makes them unstable. So, they travel around the body hunting for another electron to pair up with, making them highly reactive and leading to oxidation.

When there are too many free radicals for your body to deal with, they overwhelm its natural repair system. Therefore, oxidative damage is to blame for many chronic illnesses. Reactive oxygen species also contribute to aging (and the gradual tissue and organ function degeneration that comes with it).

So, when there is an imbalance, the free radicals begin damaging DNA, proteins, and fatty tissue which make up a major part of the human body. Damage to these leads to disease. Fortunately, antioxidants (like those found in rainbow foods) can donate an electron to lonely free radicals, thus preventing oxidative stress and cellular damage.

Phytonutrients in green foods

These phytonutrients may be hard to pronounce, but don’t let semantics get in the way of eating the plant rainbow.

The phytonutrients in green foods include flavonoids which have antioxidant properties and help to protect the heart from disease. There are also nitrates, another plant nutrient associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease mortality.

Phytonutrients in green foods

Phytonutrients in green foods










Nitrates and heart health

Research shows that dietary nitrates could be beneficial for both blood pressure and heart health. Foods rich in nitrate include leafy greens, like spinach, and cruciferous veg, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage.

Nitrates naturally occur in vegetables but are also produced by the body. When you eat these vegetables, the nitrate is converted to nitrite, another natural compound, and then into nitric oxide, an important signalling molecule in the human body.


In large amounts, nitric oxide can be harmful, but it has an important role in protecting the body, too. For example, in the circulatory system, nitric oxide tells the muscles cells around the arteries to relax which helps to regulate blood pressure.

It’s important not to get mixed up with nitrates and nitrites though. Nitrites are added to processed meats, like sausages, bacon, and ham (some good old western faves), to enhance color, flavor, and prevent bacteria growth — in large quantities, these can be toxic.

So, what green fruits and vegetables can you include in your diet?



  • Green Chillies
  • Cilantro, Basil, Dill, Parsley
  • Green Bell Pepper
  • Celery
  • Green Peas, Green Beans
  • Green Chard, Arugula, Kale, Spinch
  • Broccoli
  • Avocado
  • Cucumber
  • Bean sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Limes
  • Green Tea
  • Green Apples
  • Olives
  • Kiwi
  • Pears
  • Green Grapes
  • Honeydew




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