We talk a lot about seasonal eating here at Spark. During the winter, I like to eat hearty soups and stews, but come spring and summer, my palate naturally craves salads. I absolutely love salads, but sometimes they can get a little boring. So, another eating philosophy I like to think about is eating by color. To spice up my salads I make sure there are as many different seasonal colors as possible.

Why eat by color? It ensures you’re getting a variety of different nutrients. Research shows that different colored fruits and veggies offer different and essential nutrients. My favorite salad ingredients by color are: green spinach and avocado, yellow corn and bell peppers, purple cabbage, red bell peppers and strawberries, and brown almonds. During the summer, I eat a salad almost every day, so it’s nice to have a wide variety of ingredients to choose from.

This great chart from Yoga Journal illustrates some of the different antioxidants and nutrients found in different colored foods:

Mixed vegetable juice, pink grapefruit, tomatoes, tomato salsa, watermelon Lycopene (more readily available from cooked tomato products and juice than from whole raw tomatoes) May help prevent heart disease and prostate, colon, and rectal cancers
Beets, blackberries, blueberries, blue corn, cherries, cranberries, many varieties of figs, grapes, grape juice, plums, pomegranates, prunes, purple passion fruit, red apples, red cabbage, red pears, red wine, strawberries Anthocyanins, ellagic acid, vitamin C, fiber, quercetin (in red apples). May help prevent heart disease (by inhibiting blood clot formation); protects brain cells against oxidative stress, a tissue-damaging process associated with Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative disorders; keeps carcinogens from binding to DNA.
Acorn squash, apricots, cantaloupes, carrots, golden beets, mangos, persimmons, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, winter squash Alpha and beta carotenes, vitamin C, folate May help prevent lung disease, heart disease, and birth defects (only folate); improves communication between cells, helping them fight the spread of cancer
Guavas, kumquats, nectarines, oranges, orange juice, papayas, peaches, pineapple, starfruit, tangerines, yellow grapefruit, yellow passion fruit Beta cryptothanxin, a minor carotenoid; limonoids Boosts the immune system and inhibits the synthesis of cholesterol, which is needed to activate cancer-cell growth
Avocados, collard greens, cucumbers, some varieties of figs, green apples, green beans, green bell peppers, green peas, honeydew melons, kiwis, mustard greens, romaine lettuce, spinach, turnip greens, yellow bell peppers, yellow corn, zucchini (yellow and green). Lutein, zeaxanthin, carotenoids Helps prevent cataracts and age-related macular degeneration; improves communication between cells, helping them fight the spread of cancer; protects against clogging of the carotid arteries in the neck, an indication of atherosclerosis, the disease that leads to most heart attacks
Bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage (green), cauliflower (white, green, and purple), napa cabbage, kale, Swiss chard, watercress Sulforaphane, isothiocyanate, indoles, folate, fiber. Protects against prostate cancer; enhances the breakdown and excretion of carcinogens in the liver
Artichokes, asparagus, celery, chives, endive, garlic, green grapes, leeks, mushrooms, onions, pears, white eggplant, white wine Flavonoids, including quercetin and kaempferol; polyphenols; allicin (in the onion family) Lowers cholesterol and blood pressure;; protects brain cells against oxidative stress, a tissue-damaging process associated with Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative disorders

    What other foods can you think of for each color category? Have any colorful salad recipes to share?

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