Eating For Color: Health, Healing, Happiness

Eating For Color: Health, Healing, Happiness

Food can heal. So can color. The color of food can conveniently tell you when something is ripe, what kind of flavor it may have, and what type of nutrients it contains.

Better Bananas. Green bananas usually don't taste good, don’t digest well, and have lower nutritional quality. Yellow bananas can be eaten at any time, but are still not ideal. The best time to eat bananas is when they begin to develop black spots (but the amount of time you have to eat them before they are too ripe is brief). The black color signifies the stage when the banana contains the highest amount of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes to aid digestion in the body. The black spots on the banana also contain high levels of an anti-cancer substance called Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF), so the darker the banana, the more of this substance you’re getting.

Quick tip: Wait to eat bananas until they have black spots (similar to the third banana from the left). If you have a bunch of bananas with black spots, stick them in the refrigerator to slow down the ripening process.


Aside from ripeness, the significant of color in fruits and veggies have a very important meaning and function. The pigments of fruits and veggies are called phytochemicals. Not only do they provide color pigment, but they are some of the same blockbuster antioxidants that are constantly getting researched, recommended, and sought after in healthy communities. There are thousands of these phytonutrients, which are generally divided into three main categories:

→ Carotenoids: orange, yellow

→ Flavonoids: blue, red, purple, cream

→ Chlorophyll: green

There are, of course, other shades of colors, but these are the main three groups. A good example is beta-carotene, the orange pigment in carrots, which is also a powerful antioxidant that has many positive health benefits.

Side Note: Have you ever wondered where orange carrots came from? Before the 1700s, the only carrots that were cultivated were purple, yellow, and white. Dutch farmers, known for growing carrots, created a carrot that contained a much higher amount of beta-carotene. As a tribute to William of Orange, who led the Dutch revolt against the Spanish -- gaining Dutch independence -- the orange carrot became the most popular variety of carrot cultivated. The orange carrot has since outshone its purple, yellow, and white siblings.

A Colorful Diet. The realization that the color of fruit and vegetables is determined by the antioxidants and health benefits it contains is a very powerful one. It makes it much easier to eat a healthy and balanced diet. Rather than researching and stressing about antioxidants, and what the next food trend is (kale and avocado, looking at you) you can simply ask yourself “have I eaten anything green today?” or “How many red things have I eaten this week?”


Cullen Farrell