The color of plants is due to the presence of certain chemical compounds in them. Now we will tell you what the different colors of vegetables and fruits mean and what properties they give them.
The red color of vegetables and fruits is given by the enzyme lycopene. It is he who is responsible for the color of tomato, grapefruit and watermelon pulp, and the brighter the red color of the plant, the more lycopene it contains. Lycopene is an antioxidant, the most powerful of all found in the human body. Antioxidants are substances that prevent cells from aging and accumulating errors in them, which subsequently lead to various diseases.
Eating red vegetables and fruits helps slow the formation of atherosclerosis, improves cardiovascular activity, prevents the development of cataracts and other eye diseases, helps fight inflammation and reduces the risk of tumors.
Interestingly, lycopene is not destroyed by heat treatment. When preparing dishes from red fruits, its concentration increases due to evaporation. For example, in tomato paste, its content is 30 times higher than in fresh tomatoes.
Yellow and orange
Beta-carotene, a pigment belonging to the same group of carotenoids as red lycopene, and also an antioxidant, is responsible for the yellow-orange color. In addition, beta-carotene is a provitamin from which vitamin A (retinol) is synthesized in the body. And retinol is vital for the human body. Beta carotene also has the ability to strengthen the immune system. Carrots, pumpkin, melons, apricots are rich in beta-carotene.
Another yellow pigment is lutein, which is abundant in peaches and citrus fruits (the color of egg yolk is also due to it). Lutein is essential for the prevention of eye diseases.
The green color in vegetables and fruits is due to a complex of pigments – the same lutein, lycopene and beta-carotene, but in addition to these compounds, green plants also contain folic acid, or vitamin B9. Folic acid is important for the normal bearing of the fetus, its lack leads to the malformation of the nervous, circulatory and immune systems in the baby, and in the mother increases the risk of termination of pregnancy. Insufficient intake of vitamin B9 in men impairs the quality of semen.
Folic acid is found in large quantities in green apples and leafy greens (spinach, etc.).
Anthocyanins – substances related to glycosides – are responsible for the blue color in vegetables and fruits. In general, anthocyanins are multi-colored, and the color of the plant depends on the acidity level of the environment in which they are found. In an acidic environment, anthocyanins give a red color (some varieties of red apples), in an alkaline environment – yellow-green, and in a neutral – blue-violet. An intermediate option can be all shades of pink (for example, radish peel).
Anthocyanins have antitumor activity, slow down aging, prevent diseases of the heart and blood vessels, including stroke and heart attack. Their use has a positive effect on brain activity and immunity.
Anthocyanins are so healthy that scientists have developed new varieties of familiar vegetables, colored in an unusual blue-violet color, such as purple cauliflower and purple potatoes. The anthocyanin content is high in blueberries, black currants, eggplants, dark grapes, and red cabbage (which is actually purple in color). The concentration of anthocyanins in red wine is high; it owes its medicinal properties to these compounds.