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A Review of the Science of Colorful, Plant-Based Food and Practical Strategies for “Eating the Rainbow”



Over the past decades, thousands of published studies have amassed supporting recommendations to consume fruits and vegetables for physiological and psychological health. Newer research has emerged to suggest that these plant-based foods contain a plethora of not only vitamins and minerals, but perhaps, most importantly, phytonutrients. These phytonutrients have known pleiotropic effects on cellular structure and function, ultimately resulting in the modulation of protein kinases and subsequent epigenetic modification in a manner that leads to improved outcomes. Even though eating fruits and vegetables is a well-known feature of a healthy dietary pattern, population intakes continue to be below federal recommendations. To encourage consumers to include fruits and vegetables into their diet, an “eat by color” approach is proposed in this review. Although each individual food may have numerous effects based on its constituents, the goal of this simplified approach was to identify general patterns of benefits based on the preponderance of scientific data and known mechanisms of food-based constituents. It is suggested that such a consumer-oriented categorization of these plant-based foods may lead to greater recognition of their importance in the daily diet throughout the lifespan. Other adjunctive strategies to heighten awareness of fruits and vegetables are discussed.
Review Article
A Review of the Science of Colorful, Plant-Based Food and
Practical Strategies for “Eating the Rainbow”
Deanna M. Minich
University of Western States, 2900 NE 132nd Ave, Portland, OR 97230, USA
Institute for Functional Medicine, 505 S 336th St #600, Federal Way, WA 98003, USA
Correspondence should be addressed to Deanna M. Minich;
Received 27 September 2018; Revised 27 March 2019; Accepted 17 April 2019; Published 2 June 2019
Academic Editor: Stan Kubow
Copyright ©2019 Deanna M. Minich. is is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License,
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Over the past decades, thousands of published studies have amassed supporting recommendations to consume fruits and
vegetables for physiological and psychological health. Newer research has emerged to suggest that these plant-based foods contain
a plethora of not only vitamins and minerals, but perhaps, most importantly, phytonutrients. ese phytonutrients have known
pleiotropic effects on cellular structure and function, ultimately resulting in the modulation of protein kinases and subsequent
epigenetic modification in a manner that leads to improved outcomes. Even though eating fruits and vegetables is a well-known
feature of a healthy dietary pattern, population intakes continue to be below federal recommendations. To encourage consumers
to include fruits and vegetables into their diet, an “eat by color” approach is proposed in this review. Although each individual food
may have numerous effects based on its constituents, the goal of this simplified approach was to identify general patterns of
benefits based on the preponderance of scientific data and known mechanisms of food-based constituents. It is suggested that such
a consumer-oriented categorization of these plant-based foods may lead to greater recognition of their importance in the daily diet
throughout the lifespan. Other adjunctive strategies to heighten awareness of fruits and vegetables are discussed.
1. Introduction
While there continues to be debate about the inclusion of
meat, dairy, grains, and legumes in a healthy diet, there would
seem to be little disagreement in the scientific community that
eating fruits and vegetables is beneficial for one’s health.
Eating plant-based foods is part of many diverse dietary
patterns, including the well-studied Mediterranean diet [1],
vegan and vegetarian approaches, the hunter-gatherer (Pa-
leolithic) diet [2], and even the less well-studied, ketogenic
diet [3]. e quantity and quality of in vitro, animal, and
clinical data over several decades suggest that intake of fruits
and vegetables is associated with reducing chronic disease
risk, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cataracts, cancer,
dementia, obesity, and others [47].
e search strategy for this review article was to start
with a scientific literature review of the health benefits of
fruits and vegetables, along with the predominant issues
surrounding deficiencies in intake. Secondly, the goal was to
organize the findings into a categorical system for ease of
understanding and application.
1.1. Phytonutrient Gap. Despite the widely known health
benefits of consuming fruits and vegetables, low intakes are
historically consistent, with recent data from the 2015 Be-
havioral Risk Factor Surveillance System indicating that
most adults (particularly men, young adults, and those living
in poverty) consume insufficient amounts [8]. Only nine
percent and twelve percent of American adults met the
recommendations for vegetables and fruits, respectively [8].
Moreover, a report [9] based on food consumption data
from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey
(NHANES) conducted in 2003-2004 and 2005-2006 found
that eight out of ten Americans fall short in every color of
phytonutrients (referred to as a “phytonutrient gap”), es-
pecially in the color category of purple/blue foods (88% of
people neglected to meet their daily serving).
Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism
Volume 2019, Article ID 2125070, 19 pages
Over the years, several opinion leading health organi-
zations such as the American Institute for Cancer Research
[10], the American Heart Association [11], and the USDA
Food and Nutrition Service [12] have advocated eating “the
rainbow” of healthy food-based colors. e 2015–2020
Dietary Guidelines [13] emphasize a healthy eating pattern
across the lifespan that encourages variety and nutrient
density across color categories, especially dark-green and red
and orange vegetables. Dark-green vegetables are cited as
good sources of vitamin K, while the red and orange veg-
etables are recognized for their vitamin A content. Whole
fruits (fresh, canned, frozen, and dried forms) and 100%
fruit juice are also included. Federal government recom-
mendations depend on gender and age for intake but are
generally 1·1/2-2 cup equivalents of fruit and 2·1/2-3 cup
equivalents of vegetables daily [14]. Reduced rates of many
common cancers have been associated with the equivalent of
400–600 grams daily of fruits and vegetables [7].
1.2. Newer Documented Benefits. It has been known for some
time that the ingestion of plant foods is strongly correlated
with reduction of chronic disease [5]. Newer research
suggests that diets high in anti-inflammatory plant com-
pounds such as polyphenols and other phytochemicals may
help to offset pollutant toxicity [15, 16]. us, consuming a
diet rich in plants may help buffer one’s susceptibility to
disease risks associated with exposure to toxic pollutants in
the environment [15, 17].
Another less-recognized aspect to increased fruit and
vegetable consumption is that of psychological benefit.
Eating fruits and vegetables was shown to have a favorable
impact on psychological well-being in 12,385 Australian
adults studied longitudinally over twenty-four months using
a validated questionnaire to assess overall life satisfaction
[18]. Findings revealed that increasing fruit and vegetable
intake (for up to eight portions daily) was positively asso-
ciated with happiness, life satisfaction, and well-being, to the
extent that the improvements were equal in measure to the
psychological impact of transitioning from unemployment
to employment. Similarly, in a large population sample of
60,404 middle- and older-aged adults [19], food intake and
psychological distress assessed over almost three years of
follow-up indicated that baseline fruit and vegetable intake
at a certain threshold was associated with a lower prevalence
of psychological distress.
In addition to reducing psychological distress and en-
hancing psychological well-being, curiosity, happiness, and
creativity appeared to be changed in those eating fruits and
vegetables. In a study of 405 young adults [20], researchers at
the University of Otago in New Zealand found that those
who ate more fruits and vegetables over thirteen consecutive
days reported greater flourishing in daily life as assessed by
higher levels of well-being, intense feelings of curiosity, and
creativity, compared with young adults who ate less fruits
and vegetables. ese effects were not limited to the ex-
tended duration of intake. On days when young adults ate
more fruits and vegetables, there was a corresponding in-
crease in the defined markers of flourishing compared with
days when they ate less fruits and vegetables. Finally, in a
smartphone-based assessment logging, 1,044 completed
eating episodes, and it was found that, of fourteen different
main food categories, vegetable consumption contributed
the largest share to eating happiness measured across eight
days [21].
1.3. Revisiting Mechanisms. Understanding the role of
complex bioactives from foods in chronic disease is difficult,
considering it has been estimated that there are more than
25,000 bioactive food constituents [22]. Additionally, phy-
tonutrients are pleiotropic and have multiple effects on
cellular physiology, especially in the area of inflammation,
insulin sensitization, and stress response [23, 24]. Newer
research now suggests that phytonutrients play significant
roles beyond their protective, antioxidant activity [25]. ey
have been shown to have functional and structural capac-
ities, in addition to being cell signaling agents and mes-
sengers and modifying telomerase activity, as well as
partaking in epigenetic changes through histone modifica-
tion and demethylation [26, 27]. Due to their ability to
address multiple mechanisms simultaneously, phytonu-
trients may be especially helpful in chronic diseases. For
example, polyphenols have been suggested to be a potential
nutraceutical intervention in type 2 diabetes [28], where
there are several dysfunctional processes related to glucose
and lipid metabolism that impact a number of body systems.
1.4. Phytochemical Index (PI). A longstanding challenge has
been quantifying the complex array of phytochemicals in the
diet. While that continues to remain a research hurdle, there
are now other valuable metrics that can be used. e USDA
Nutrient Database [29] now includes food measurements for
flavonoids, proanthocyanidins, isoflavones, and carotenoids,
which cumulatively give a better estimate of a food’s phy-
tochemical content.
Phytochemical index (PI) is a relatively recent term,
introduced in the cited scientific literature by McCarty in
2004 [30], and is defined as “the percent of dietary calories
derived from foods rich in phytochemicals.” As outlined in
the article, those calories would be from several select plant-
based foods, including fruits, vegetables (excluding pota-
toes), fruit/vegetable juices, legumes, whole grains, nuts,
seeds, soy products, wine, beer, and cider, and foods derived
therefrom. Refined oils, sugars, and grains, along with potato
products, hard liquors, and animal products, would be
excluded from the index. While still a general estimate, the
PI could be a helpful marker in epidemiological studies. It
might be reasonable to envision such a marker in a
smartphone application whereby a consumer could input
their food intake to get a corresponding PI value. Moreover,
as the PI concept evolves, it is foreseeable that it could be
correlated directly to the colors of food.
Since PI was introduced in 2004, it has been used as a
research measure in a variety of studies. PI has been shown
to be inversely associated with body mass index, waist
circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, and plasma oxidative
stress [31]. A higher dietary PI was shown to have favorable
2Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism
effects on prevention of weight gain and reduction of body
adiposity in adults [32], along with improved lipids [33, 34],
and lowered risk of hypertension [35] and breast cancer [36].
As the field of personalized nutrition evolves along with
a better understanding of the mechanisms of phytonutrients,
there may be possibilities to do more selective phytoprofiling
or targeting of conditions to certain plant-based agents for
their disease-modulating effects [37].
1.5. Botanical Diversity and Color Density. Botanical di-
versity and food variety are relevant topics in the field of
phytonutrients. In a recent review, Pruimboom and Muskiet
[38] discussed the disparity between the plant diversity of
Homo sapiens’ diet of over 135,00 years ago at over 3000
species compared to the modern-day diet of which 400 plant
species are gathered, but only more than 100 are utilized for
food. Research suggests that greater variety of fruits and
vegetables may have more significant impact on health
markers like blood pressure, oxidative damage, and risk of
falls than a less-varied diet [39–42]. In an excellent review
article making a case for food diversity for the gut micro-
biome, Toribio-Mateas [43] recommends a “50-food chal-
lenge” chart to log intake of fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs,
and spices over a 7-day period. e intended goal is to help
individuals track their eating pattern for the benefit of
providing a wide range of prebiotic compounds, especially
polyphenols [44], from plant-based foods to feed a vast
spectrum of bacteria. Indeed, even small amounts of spices
have been shown to have prebiotic potential for the gut
bacteria, indicating the significance of concentrated sources
of phytonutrients [45].
Most plant-based foods are known to contain more than
one colorful pigment, which typically corresponds to a
phytonutrient or phytonutrient category, e.g., orange/beta-
carotene, green/chlorophyll, and purple/flavonoids. Since a
healthy eating pattern involves both a varied array (“nutrient
diversity”) and dense concentration of nutrients (“nutrient
density”) [46], it might be worthwhile to assess the different
phytonutrient pigments contained in one food as a way of
eating more “color density.” ose foods which have more
than one class of phytonutrient and perhaps more corre-
sponding colors (“greater color density”) would be those
which would be most desirable for inclusion in the diet.
Food listed according to their color density index is pro-
posed in Table 1.
1.6. Taking a Qualitative (“Eat by Color”) Approach to
Increasing Fruit and Vegetable Intake. While consuming
recommended quantities of fruits and vegetables continues
to be difficult for most people, it might be plausible to take a
qualitative color rather than a quantitative servings ap-
proach. e concept of eating the rainbow of healthful foods
would seem to be an effective strategy for assisting people in
improving their diet. It can be implemented by all ages
through a variety of methods. For easy reference and re-
membering, the importance of getting each color may be
associated with some general related health benefits [7].
Preliminary research suggests that there may be rele-
vance to the colors of fruits and vegetables and their effects
in the body. For example, Mirmiran et al. [48] examined
whether the colors of fruits and vegetables were associated
with cardiometabolic risk factors in 1,272 adults over three
years. Based on food frequency questionnaires, de-
mographics, anthropometrics, and biochemical measures, it
was found that higher intake of red/purple fruits and veg-
etables were related to lower weight and abdominal fat gain,
and yellow, green, and white fruits and vegetables were
associated with lipid parameters.
Moreover, in a Dutch prospective study over ten years,
it was found that higher intakes of white fruits and veg-
etables were inversely associated with incident stroke. For
each twenty-five gram per day increase in white fruits and
vegetables (e.g., apples and pears), there was a 9% lower
risk of stroke [49]. Along similar lines, the same research
group found that, with each twenty-five gram per day
increase in the intake of deep orange fruits and vegetables,
there was an inverse association with coronary heart
disease (CHD) [50]. Of these orange foods, carrots were
the largest contributor (60%) with a 32% lower risk of
In this article, each of the different colors of foods will
be reviewed for their health properties for specific organ
systems or functions. While there is no exclusive classi-
fication of color for their physiological activities, these are
general patterns based on scientific research for the ease of
establishing a learning system and “art of eating” for the
average consumer. More specifically, each color category,
associated corresponding foods, phytonutrient content,
and conferred benefit(s) were determined based on the
preponderance of research publications. us, for the
purpose of ease in categorization, this review article fol-
lows these criteria:
(i) Red Foods and Inflammation. High in antioxidants
and red-food carotenoids (e.g., astaxanthin and
lycopene), anti-inflammatory properties, and im-
mune system modulation (e.g., vitamin C)
(ii) Orange Foods and Reproductive Health. Abundant
in carotenoids, endocrine-regulating activities, and
role in fertility through support of processes such as
(iii) Yellow Foods and Digestion. Rich in fibers to support
a complex microbiome and assist in maintaining
gastrointestinal health through gastric motility and/
or digestive secretions
(iv) Green Foods and Cardiovascular Health. High in a
variety of nutrients for cardiovascular health, such
as vitamin K, folate, magnesium, potassium, and
dietary nitrates
(v) Blue-Purple Foods and Cognition. Polyphenol-rich
foods to assist with learning, memory, and mood
(flavonoids, procyanidins (monomeric and oligo-
meric form), flavonols (i.e., kaempferol, quercetin,
and myricetin), phenolic acids (mainly hydrox-
ycinnamic acids), and derivatives of stilbenes)
Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism 3
Table 1: Color density index (CDI) chart.
# Plant food Red
1 Acorn squash X X X N/A
2 Almonds X X X X
3 Amaranth X X X N/A
4 Apricots X X X X
5 Artichokes X X X X
6 Arugula X X X X
7 Asparagus X X X X
8 Avocado (all commercial varieties) X X X X
9 Bananas X X X X
10 Basil (dried) X X X X
11 Beets X X X
12 Black beans X X
13 Blackberries X X X X
14 Blueberries X X X X
15 Broccoli X X X X
16 Brussels sprouts X X X X
17 Butternut squash X X N/A
18 Cabbage X X X X
19 Cantaloupe X X X X
20 Carrots X X X X X
21 Casaba melon X X N/A
22 Cashews X X X
23 Cauliflower X X X
24 Celery X X X X
25 Chinese cabbage (pak choi) X X X X
26 Chinese cabbage (pe-tsai) X X X X
27 Chives X X X X
28 Cilantro (coriander) X X X X
29 Cranberries X X X X
30 Cucumbers X X X X
31 Eggplant X X X X
32 Endive X X X
33 Feijoa X X X X N/A
34 Fennel X X X X
35 Figs X X X X
36 Flaxseed X X N/A
37 Fuji apples X X X X
38 Gala apples X X X X
39 Garlic X X X X
40 Golden delicious apples X X X X
41 Granny smith apples X X X X
42 Grapefruit X X X X X
43 Green and red grapes X X X (especially green) X
44 Green hot chili peppers X X X X
45 Green peas X X X X
46 Green peppers X X X X
47 Green snap beans X X X X
48 Guava X X X X
49 Hazelnuts X X X X
50 Honeydew melon X X X X
51 Iceberg lettuce X X X X
52 Jalapeño peppers X X X X
53 Jicama X X N/A
54 Kale X X X X
55 Kiwi X X X X
56 Kohlrabi X X X
57 Leeks X X X X
58 Lentils X X X
59 Mango X X X X X
60 Medjool dates X X X X (deglet noor)
61 Millet (cooked) X X X N/A
4Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism
Table 1: Continued.
# Plant food Red
62 Nectarines X X X X
63 Okra X X X X
64 Onion X X X X
65 Oranges (all commercial varieties) X X X X
66 Oregano (dried) X X X X
67 Papayas X X X X X
68 Parsley X X X X
69 Pear X X X X
70 Pecans X X X X
71 Pine nuts (dried) X X X X
72 Pineapple X X X
73 Pistachios X X X X
74 Plums X X X X
75 Pumpkin X X X X
76 Pumpkin seeds (dried) X X X N/A
77 Quinoa X X X N/A
78 Radishes X X X X
79 Raspberries X X X X
80 Red cabbage X X X X X
81 Red delicious apples X X X X
82 Red hot chili peppers X X X N/A
83 Red lentils N/A X N/A X N/A
84 Red peppers X X X X
85 Red potatoes X X X X
86 Romaine lettuce X X X X
87 Russet (white) potatoes X X X
88 Rutabagas X X X X X
89 Savoy cabbage X X X X
90 Scallions X X X X
91 Sea vegetables (kelp) X X N/A
92 Serrano peppers X X X X
93 Sesame seeds (dried) X X N/A
94 Shallots X X X N/A
95 Snap peas X X X N/A
96 Sour red cherries X X X X
97 Soybeans, mature seeds X X X
98 Spaghetti squash X X N/A
99 Spinach X X X X
100 Spirulina X X N/A
101 Strawberries X X X X
102 Summer squash X X X X
103 Sunflower seeds (dried) X X N/A
104 Sweet cherries X X X X
105 Sweet potato, raw X X X
106 Swiss chard X X X X
107 Tangerines X X X X
108 Tomatoes X X X X X
109 Walnuts (English) X X X X
110 Watercress X X X X
111 Watermelon X X X X X
112 Yellow peaches X X X X
113 Yellow peppers N/A X N/A X X
114 Yellow plantain X X X N/A
115 Zucchini X X X X
e table is in the alphabetical order and contains many of the commonly consumed vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, and spices. One or two main
phytonutrients were used to represent the colors: lycopene for red, beta-carotene for orange, lutein and zeaxanthin for yellow, folate for green, and flavonoids
for purple. e majority of information comes from the USDA National Nutrient Database [29], with some of the flavonoid information derived from the
USDA Database for Flavonoid Content of Selected Foods 3.1 [47]. e latter database is not as extensive as the former, so some of the foods on this table were
not included in that database. ese foods have an “N/A” listed under the “purple” column. ere were also a few foods for which the USDA National
Nutritional Database did not list the lycopene, beta-carotene, lutein, and/or zeaxanthin content, which corresponds to an N/A listed for those foods. Finally,
the table only designates that there is some quantity of these phytonutrients but does not designate which are highest in the color nor which of the colors is
more dominant for the particular color. Unless designated, the results are for the raw version of the foods.
Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism 5
Summaries of the colors, nutrients, and physiological
effects can be found in Table 2, while specific foods, their
nutrients, and health benefits are in Table 3. Although this
review uses generalized concepts about color, phytonu-
trients, and foods, it is important to remember that there are
thousands of (phyto)nutrients present in food. e in-
teraction between different phytochemicals that can be
found inherently in the whole, plant-based food, and their
interactions, is not accounted for in this overview. Certainly,
there can be interactions within the food itself as well as the
food with the gut microbiome; however, for the purposes of
cultivating improved dietary intake of plant-based foods as
the aim of this paper, these details were not addressed.
2. Red Foods and Inflammation
Red-colored fruits and vegetables are included in Table 2.
Red-colored foods tend to be high in certain (phyto)nu-
trients that may confer antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and
immune-modulating activities such as ascorbic acid, lyco-
pene, astaxanthin, fisetin, and the wider class of anthocy-
anins. Chronic inflammation is closely associated with a
dysfunctional and dysregulated immune response, ulti-
mately resulting in a wide variety of conditions such as
cancers, neurological abnormalities, cardiovascular diseases,
diabetes, obesity, pulmonary diseases, immunological dis-
eases, and other life-threatening conditions [51].
Red-colored foods such as acerola cherry, rosehips, red
bell pepper, and tomatoes also tend to be some of the highest
vitamin C-containing foods [29]. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
is well known for its effects on the immune system, and in
states of increased inflammation, vitamin C levels tend to
decrease in the body [52]. Several studies in cell, animals,
and humans have suggested that red-colored foods and/or
their isolated constituents [53] may assist with reducing
systemic inflammation and bolstering immune status by
reducing infections, including watermelon [54], apples
[55–61], cherries [61–63], cranberries [57, 64, 65] pome-
granate [66–70], and raspberries [71–73].
2.1. Tomatoes. Tomatoes have been widely studied in a
variety of formats, from raw tomatoes to tomato juice, and
even further into isolated tomato-derived phytonutrients
like lycopene. ey are especially known for their abundant
levels of vitamin C, flavonoids (e.g., fisetin), and carotenoids
(e.g., lycopene) [74]. Since they are part of the Solanaceae
botanical family, there is commentary by consumer-directed
websites and organizations that their alkaloid content may
be inflammatory to individuals who are sensitive to those
An animal study [75] concluded that both lycopene and
tomato powder supplementation given separately were
equally effective in reducing inflammatory and metabolic
issues that arise with a high-fat diet. Both supplemental
formats helped to reduce inflammatory and lipid markers,
mainly through a reduction in the phosphorylation levels of
IkB and p65. A group of 106 overweight or obese female
students at the Tehran University of Medical Sciences were
randomly assigned either 330 ml of tomato juice or water per
day for twenty days. Compared with the control group and
with baseline, serum concentrations of IL-8 and TNF-α
decreased significantly in overweight and obese female
subjects [76]. Other studies using tomato juice [77] or
tomato-based drinks [78] have shown beneficial effects on
inflammation. In another study with tomato juice, in-
dividuals with metabolic syndrome had a significant im-
provement in inflammation status and endothelial
dysfunction after having tomato juice four times a week over
a period of two months compared with the control group
[79]. Specifically, tomato products consumed with a high-fat
meal were effective at attenuating postprandial lipemia-
induced oxidative stress and associated inflammatory re-
sponse (notably, the rise in IL-6) in healthy individuals [80].
Tomato intake in any form, whether as raw tomatoes,
tomato sauce, or tomato sauce with refined olive oil, de-
creased plasma total cholesterol, triglycerides, and several
cellular and plasma inflammatory biomarkers, and increased
plasma HDL cholesterol and IL-10 concentrations [81].
However, the addition of the oil to the tomato sauce caused
greater changes of plasma IL-6 and vascular cell adhesion
molecule-1 (VCAM-1) and lymphocyte function-associated
antigen-1 (LFA-1) from T-lymphocytes and CD36 from
monocytes than after the other tomato interventions.
Overall, studies would suggest that tomato-based
products, particularly when included with a meal, may
offset inflammatory markers related to cardiometabolic
health and oxidative stress.
2.2. Strawberries. Strawberries, a rich source of anti-
inflammatory polyphenols such as anthocyanins, have
been shown to reduce postprandial meal-induced increases
in inflammation and oxidative stress in fourteen overweight
health adults, particularly when the strawberry drink was
consumed before the meal [82]. Schell et al. [83] found that
obese adults with knee osteoarthritis drank a reconstituted
freeze-dried strawberry beverage (50 grams daily) for twelve
weeks, and it was more effective at reducing serum bio-
markers of inflammation and cartilage degradation, IL-6, IL-
1β, and matrix metalloproteinase-3 (MMP-3), compared
with the control beverage.
Strawberry supplementation also significantly reduced
constant, intermittent, and total pain, which led to the re-
searchers concluding that dietary strawberries have signif-
icant analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects in obese adults
with established knee osteoarthritis. Overweight adults
(n24) consumed a high-carbohydrate, moderate-fat meal
accompanied by either a strawberry or a placebo beverage in
a crossover design [84]. e strawberry beverage signifi-
cantly lessened meal-evoked postprandial inflammation as
measured by high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP)
and IL-6, in addition to reducing postprandial insulin
irty-six subjects with type 2 diabetes were randomly
divided into two groups [85]. e treatment group con-
sumed two cups of freeze-dried strawberry beverage (50 g of
freeze-dried strawberry is equivalent to 500 g of fresh
6Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism
Table 2: Color of fruits and vegetables, select phytochemicals, and physiological effects.
Color Fruits Vegetables Select
phytochemicals Physiological effects
Blood oranges
Pink grapefruit
Red currants
Red pears
Red plums
Red beets
Red bell peppers
Red cabbage
Red chard
Red jalapeño pepper
Red onion
Red potatoes
Ellagic acid
(i) Anti-inflammatory
(ii) General antioxidant activity
(iii) Immune modulation
Blood oranges
Passion fruit
Orange bell peppers
Sweet potatoes
(i) Antioxidant for fat-soluble tissues
(ii) Endocrine modulation
(iii) Role in ovulation and fertility
Apples (golden
Asian pears
Star fruit
Potatoes (Yukon)
Squash (acorn, buttercup, butternut,
summer, winter)
Yellow bell peppers
Yellow onions
Prebiotic fibers
(i) Antioxidant
(ii) Enzymatic activity
(iii) Gastric motility and regulation
(iv) Reduce glycemic impact
(v) Role in fostering a healthy gut
Brussels sprouts
Green tea
Green apples
Bamboo sprouts
Bean sprouts
Bell peppers
Bitter melon
Bok choy
Green beans
Green peas
Greens (beet, chard, collards, dandelion,
kale, lettuce, mustard, spinach, turnip)
Rosemary and other herbs
Snow peas
Chlorogenic acid
(i) Antioxidant
(ii) Blood vessel support
(iii) Role in healthy circulation and
Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism 7
strawberries) or macronutrient-matched placebo powder
with strawberry flavor daily for six weeks in a randomized
double-blind controlled trial. Freeze-dried strawberry sup-
plementation significantly decreased CRP and malondial-
dehyde at six weeks compared to the baseline.
In a crossover design, fourteen women and ten men were
randomized to a six-week strawberry or placebo beverage
followed by a high-carbohydrate/fat meal with assessments
for six hours postprandially [86]. High-carbohydrate/fat meal
responses after six weeks of the strawberry beverage showed
significantly attenuated inflammatory markers compared
with placebo. Specifically, consumption of the strawberry
beverage resulted in lower postprandial PAI-1 concentrations,
especially at six hours. IL-1 βwas also decreased in the
strawberry group, and IL-6 increased significantly from
baseline to six hours after the meal, following the placebo but
remained relatively flat following the strawberry beverage
from fasting to six hours. To summarize, strawberries, pri-
marily as a freeze-dried beverage, appears to mitigate the
inflammatory response over time and postprandially.
2.3. Beets. Beets provide a complex array of nutrients, but
the beetroot itself is especially rich in a class of compounds
known as betalains [87]. Betalains have been heralded as
important considerations in chronic diseases involving in-
flammation, oxidative stress, and dyslipidemia [87]. A small
clinical trial demonstrates the efficacy of the beet, prepared
as either a juice or cooked, for reducing inflammation in
hypertensive individuals. Specifically, hypertensive subjects
who took either raw beet juice or cooked beet in a crossover
design demonstrated that both forms of beetroot were ef-
fective in reducing systemic inflammation as assessed by
intracellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), VCAM-1, hs-
CRP, IL-6, E-selectin, and TNF-α(P<0.05) [88].
3. Orange Foods and Reproductive Health
Orange-colored fruits and vegetables are listed in Table 2.
Orange-colored plant foods share common properties with
the red-colored ones with respect to their antioxidant ca-
pacity. e primary difference is the carotenoids associated
with this color class of foods, such as beta-carotene and beta-
cryptoxanthin. Carotenoid compounds are fat-soluble an-
tioxidants, stored in subcutaneous fat and in adipose tissue.
While carotenoids can be ubiquitously found throughout the
body due to the widespread occurrence of adipose tissue,
they can be allocated to different parts of the body for
particular functions [89].
ere appears to be localization of specific carotenoids in
certain parts of the body related to hormones and re-
productive health, most likely due to their antioxidant na-
ture [90, 91]. Oxidative stress is associated with infertility for
both men and women [92]. Carotenoids may be especially
important in ovaries [93]. Czeczuga-Semeniuk and Wolc-
zynski [94] found the presence of up to fourteen different
carotenoids (e.g., beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, echi-
nenone, and hydroxyechinenone) in the ovarian tissue of
100 women operated on for ovarian tumors.
Although it has not been confirmed in humans, animal
research in goats [9598] suggests that even short-term
beta-carotene can enhance or modulate ovarian function
and progesterone synthesis. Furthermore, beta-carotene
may have endocrine-stimulating or modulating effects as
shown in prepubertal goats [99101], given beta-carotene
supplementation compared with a control group: positive
changes in blood biomarkers such as total protein [99],
cholesterol [99], glucose [99], insulin [100], and tri-
iodothyronine [101] were noted. In support of the concept
emerging from studies in goats that beta-carotene may
influence the endocrine system, a longitudinal study [102]
in 1106 men and women followed for three years showed
that greater intake of dietary carotenoids, particularly those
found in orange foods, such as beta-carotene and beta-
cryptoxanthin, was associated with a reduced risk of insulin
In cattle, the highest beta-carotene levels in the
plasma, corpus luteum, and follicular fluid were found
during pregnancy when there is maximal luteal function,
and the beta-carotene level of the corpus luteum was
significantly correlated with the weight and diameter of
corpus luteum [103]. While there is a paucity of human
data, previous studies have indicated that women with
endometriosis have lower intake of vitamin A than women
without endometriosis [104]. Certain carotenoids, such as
beta-carotene, are provitamin A compounds, and there-
fore, may be of use. Supplementation with beta-carotene
and other antioxidants in women has shown to reduce
time to pregnancy in couples treated for unexplained
fertility [105].
Carotenoids are also important for male fertility. Sperm
is susceptible to oxidative damage from the reactive oxygen
species they generate, together with the fact that they have a
high polyunsaturated fat content and a reduced capacity to
Table 2: Continued.
Color Fruits Vegetables Select
phytochemicals Physiological effects
Purple grapes
Purple bell peppers
Purple cabbage
Purple carrots
Purple cauliflower
Purple kale
Purple potatoes
Phenolic acids
(i) Antioxidant
(ii) Cognitive support
(iii) Healthy mood balance
(iv) Role in neuronal health
8Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism
repair DNA damage [106]. Beta-carotene was found to be
associated with sperm concentration in healthy, non-
smoking men [107]. In another study [108], beta-carotene
was one of the three antioxidants that significantly decreased
in seminal plasma of immunoinfertile men as compared to
levels in fertile men.
3.1. Wild Yam (Dioscorea). In traditional medicine, wild
yam is widely used to treat menopausal symptoms, most
likely due to its phytoestrogen content and corresponding
ability to stimulate ovarian estradiol synthesis [109–111]. In
one study [112], twenty-four healthy postmenopausal
women replaced their staple food of rice with 390 grams of
Table 3: Select foods, their (phyto)nutrient profile, and health benefits.
Color Food Some food formats researched Basic (phyto)nutrient profile Researched health benefits
Red Tomatoes Juice, powder, raw, sauce (prepared
with and without oil)
Carotenoids (e.g., lycopene),
flavonoids, vitamin C
(i) Reduction in inflammatory
(ii) Reduction in postprandial
(iii) Improvement in lipid markers
Red Strawberries Freeze-dried as beverage Polyphenols (flavonoids, phenolic
acids, tannins), vitamin C
(i) Reduction in postprandial
(ii) Reduction in pain due to
Red Beets Cooked, raw juice Betalains (i) Reduction in inflammatory
Orange Wild yam Cooked Phytoestrogens
(i) Increase in estrogen and
estrogen metabolites
(ii) Phytoestrogenic activity
Orange Carrots Not specified Alpha- and beta-carotene
(i) Decrease in rate of breast and
prostate cancer
(ii) Phytoestrogenic activity
(iii) Association with estrogen
Orange Orange fruits Not specified Bioflavonoids, beta-carotene, beta-
(i) Delay in ovarian senescence
(ii) Lower risk for endometriosis
Yellow Ginger Standardized extract Gingerols, shogaols (i) Decrease in nausea
(ii) Increase in gastric emptying
Yellow Citrus
(lemons) Juice, raw Hesperidin, nobiletin, rutin,
vitamin C
(i) Protective against gastric ulcer
(ii) Antidiabetic
(iii) Reduction in glycemic impact
Yellow Pineapple Juice Bromelain, serotonin (i) Enzymatic activity
Yellow Bananas Raw Prebiotic fiber, serotonin (i) Increase in bifidobacteria
(ii) Reduction in bloating
Green Leafy greens Raw, spinach Chlorophyll, folate, nitrates,
(i) Reduction in blood pressure
(ii) Increase in nitric oxide
(iii) Increase in blood flow
Green Cruciferous
vegetables Not specified Glucosinolates, isothiocyanates,
(i) Antioxidant action
(ii) Reduction in platelet
(iii) Reduction in thrombus
Concord grape
juice Juice Phenolic acids, stilbenes,
anthocyanins, proanthocyanins
(i) Improvement in spatial memory
and performance
(ii) Improvement in reaction time
on attention
(iii) Increase in calm ratings
purple Blueberries Beverage, freeze-dried, raw
Flavonoids, procyanidins
(monomeric and oligomeric form),
flavonols (i.e., kaempferol,
quercetin, myricetin), phenolic
acids (mainly hydroxycinnamic
acids), derivatives of stilbenes
(i) Improvement in measures of
(ii) Benefit to mood
(iii) Improvement in
is table provides a summary of certain foods and accompanying animal and/or clinical research studies as discussed in this review article. Details on the
studies can be found in the respective color section in the text.
Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism 9
yam or sweet potato (control) in two of the three meals per
day for thirty days. Yam ingestion led to increases of 26% in
serum concentrations of estrone, while urinary concentra-
tions of the genotoxic estrogen, 16alpha-hydroxyestrone,
decreased by 37%. Along similar lines, a variety of Chi-
nese yam (Dioscorea opposite unb.) was shown to have
estrogenic effects in vitro and in vivo [113]. Although studies
are limited in food form, wild yam products are commonly
used in the dietary supplement industry for enhancing
progesterone levels.
3.2. Carrots (Daucus carota). Carrots (Daucus carota)
contain alpha- and beta-carotene [114], and extracts may
have (phyto)estrogenic activity [115, 116] or be associated
with estrogen metabolism [117]. While the mechanism(s)
remain(s) unknown, epidemiological studies suggest that
dietary carrot intake is associated with lower rates of breast
[118, 119] and prostate cancer [120]. While these are pre-
liminary findings, it would seem that, based on their ca-
rotenoid (especially beta-carotene) content, there could be
an implied association with ovarian health based on the
animal studies listed above, perhaps related to the con-
centration of carotenoids in the ovary.
3.3. Orange Fruits. Orange fruits include the citrus family
(e.g., mandarins, oranges, and tangerines) in addition to the
tropical orange fruits such as papaya, peaches, and persim-
mons. ere is a host of nutrients to be found in the different
classes, ranging from vitamin C and bioflavonoids to carot-
enoids such as beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin.
Alarge study [104] of 70,835 premenopausal women as
part of Nurses’ Health Study II demonstrated a nonlinear
inverse association between higher fruit consumption,
particularly for citrus fruits, and risk of endometriosis.
Women who had 1 servings of citrus fruits/day had a 22%
lower endometriosis risk compared to those consuming <1
serving/week. Beta-cryptoxanthin, a carotenoid commonly
found in orange-colored fruits, was the only nutrient ex-
amined that correlated with the lower risk of endometri-
osis. Furthermore, Pearce and Tremellen [121] investigated
the influence of diet on the onset of natural menopause in
1146 premenopausal women followed for an average of
12.5 years. ey found that the age of natural menopause is
closely associated with dietary intake of beta-cryptoxanthin
and fruit. It was suggested that a diet containing 400 mcg
of β-cryptoxanthin per day from orange-colored fruits such
as mandarins, oranges, and peaches may have the potential
to delay ovarian senescence by 1.3 years. Overall, there is
good emerging data to suggest that orange fruits may
contain the essential carotenoids for healthy reproductive
4. Yellow Foods and Digestion
Yellow foods are found in Table 2. ese foods may contain a
wide array of actives that benefit the gastrointestinal tract
and digestion, including bioflavonoid constituents that may
modify gastric microbial activity, such as H. pylori and the
propensity towards ulcers, or even the activity of cytochrome
P450 enzymes which can ultimately modify the intestinal
and/or hepatic detoxification of toxic compounds. Various
soluble, insoluble, and prebiotic fibers are used to impede the
release of simple carbohydrates into the bloodstream,
thereby lowering glycemic index. ey may also provide the
raw materials required as an energy substrate to be used by
the gut microbiome.
4.1. Ginger. Ginger is a long-recognized rhizome that
contains over 400 different chemical compounds, of which
gingerols and shogaols are widely discussed [122]. An ex-
tensive review of the literature suggests that ginger is helpful
for a variety of gastrointestinal disorders, ranging from
vomiting to dyspepsia to irritable bowel syndrome [122].
Most notably, ginger has been used traditionally for nausea
[123]. A study in healthy volunteers using a standardized
extract of ginger and artichoke promoted gastric emptying
in healthy volunteers without adverse effects [124]. Ginger
stimulated gastric emptying in healthy adults [125] and
gastric emptying and antral contractions in patients with
functional dyspepsia, with no impact on gastrointestinal
symptoms or gut peptides [126].
4.2. Citrus Fruits (Lemons). One of the distinctive features of
citrus fruits is that they are acidic, mostly due to their high
ascorbic acid content. is low pH may be helpful for di-
gestive health. Several studies have reported that the gly-
cemic response to starch-rich meals can be reduced by
20–50% with acidic drinks or foods [127]. Using an in vitro
model [127], it was shown that lemon juice consumed with
starch-rich foods resulted in a two-time lower breakdown of
starch compared with water, suggesting a strategy to reduce
the glycemic impact of high-starch meals.
Furthermore, consumption of citrus fruits has been
shown to be associated with reduced risk of esophageal and
gastric cancers [128, 129]. Various phytonutrients within
citrus fruits such as hesperidin [130], nobiletin [131], and
rutin [132] have been demonstrated to be protective against
gastric ulcer, suggesting that, either alone or in combination
with other agents, they could be useful therapeutics for
common gastrointestinal complaints [133]. Naringenin, a
flavonoid found in high concentrations in yellow citrus
fruits, has been reported to have several beneficial effects,
one of which involves antidiabetic activity. From a mech-
anistic point of view, naringenin has been shown to inhibit
gluconeogenesis by upregulating AMPK [134], in addition to
its influence on improving metabolic disturbances as shown
in ovariectomized mice [135].
4.3. Pineapple. Bromelain, a proteolytic enzyme found in
pineapple juice, may be helpful in metabolizing undigested
food remnants in the stomach [136, 137]. In one study,
drinking one liter of pineapple juice daily for three days was
found to be a useful strategy for dissolving food remnants in
patients undergoing endoscopic procedure for removal of
intragastric balloon [138]. Similarly, adding pineapple juice
10 Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism
to a polyethylene glycol-based solution for a colonoscopic
procedure improved the quality of colon cleaning [139].
While food studies are sparse, bromelain derived from
pineapple is often isolated for application in dietary sup-
plements marketed for enzymatic activity.
4.4. Bananas and Plantains. Depending on their degree of
ripeness, bananas contain considerable amounts of in-
digestible carbohydrates, which could serve as prebiotic
sources for the gut microflora. In one study [140], healthy
women without history of gastrointestinal disease were asked
to maintain their usual dietary habits for sixty days. ey were
randomly assigned to consume twice a day a premeal snack,
either one medium banana or one cup of banana-flavored
drink or one cup of water (control group). Stool samples were
collected, and gastrointestinal symptoms were also recorded.
Mean bifidobacteria levels were increased only in the banana
group both at thirty and sixty days of intervention, although it
did not reach a statistical significance. Analysis of the gas-
trointestinal symptoms records revealed significantly lower
bloating levels in the banana group, compared to controls, at
2635 days (p0.009) and 5160 days (p0.010).
In addition to providing a source of prebiotic fiber, both
plantains and bananas (and even pineapples) were highest in
the serotonin content of 80 different foods tested [141]. With
many neurotransmitters being formed in the gastrointestinal
tract, the implications of interaction with dietary neuroac-
tive substances remain unknown, yet an area of research that
provides promise.
5. Green Foods and Cardiovascular Health
Green foods are listed in Table 2. Green leafy vegetables are
particularly abundant in nutrients that may be beneficial for
heart health, including vitamin K (phylloquinone), mag-
nesium, potassium, naturally occurring nitrates, and folates
[142, 143]. Based on findings from a meta-analysis, Pollock
[144] indicated that 15.8% of cardiovascular disease (CVD)
risk could be reduced by “almost every day” consumption of
green leafy vegetables, which included those in the crucif-
erous variety. Convincing evidence from studies exists to
suggest that increasing daily consumption of vegetables and
fruits can reduce risk for hypertension, coronary heart
disease, and stroke [145]. Green leafy diets can be high in
polyphenol concentration and provide a variety in poly-
phenol subclasses, which may differentially affect car-
diometabolic risk factors [146, 147]. Flavonoid antioxidants
such as vitexin and others have cardioprotective effects and
can be found in green leafy vegetables like Swiss chard
5.1. Leafy Greens (Spinach). Leafy greens provide copious
nutrients for cardiovascular health, most notably, dietary
Short-term and even long-term (14 year) trials indicate
inorganic nitrate and nitrate-rich vegetables may have
vascular health benefits and lead to lowered CVD mortality
[151–153]. e consumption of nitrate-rich vegetables, such
as several of the leafy greens like spinach, has been shown to
promote nitric oxide bioavailability, reduce systemic blood
pressure, enhance tissue blood flow, modulate muscle ox-
ygen utilization, and improve exercise tolerance, thereby
potentially attenuating complications associated with lim-
ited oxygen availability or transport, hypertension, and the
metabolic syndrome [154, 155]. Some of the highest nitrate
containing green foods include celery, cress, chervil, lettuce,
spinach, and rocket [156].
Spinach contains phytochemicals that may help with its
cardiovascular benefits [157], especially nitrates. In one
study [158], twenty-seven healthy participants were ran-
domly assigned to receive either a high-nitrate (spinach;
845 mg nitrate/day) or low-nitrate soup (asparagus; 0.6 mg
nitrate/day) for seven days with a one-week washout period.
High- vs. low-nitrate intervention reduced central systolic
and diastolic blood pressure and brachial systolic blood
5.2. Cruciferous Vegetables. While vegetables and fruits have
consistently shown benefit for reducing CVD risk, crucif-
erous vegetables specifically have been shown to be asso-
ciated with cardiovascular health [159]. Cruciferous
vegetable intake was inversely associated with reduced
cardiovascular mortality [159] and subclinical atheroscle-
rosis [160] and 15-year atherosclerotic vascular disease
deaths [161] in older adult women. Cruciferous vegetables
are identified by their high concentration of organosulfur
compounds such as isothiocyanates and glucosinolates
[160]. Sulforaphane is an isothiocyanate with recent data
indicating that its favorable effects in CVD are due to its
antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties [162, 163] as
well as its ability to prevent platelet aggregation and reduce
thrombus formation in flow conditions [164].
6. Blue-Purple Foods and Cognition
Blue-purple foods are listed in Table 2. Studies indicate that
blue-purple foods are helpful for cognition and mood.
Favorable studies for blue-purple foods have been docu-
mented for blueberries and grapes, both of which contain
health-related phytonutrients, mainly polyphenols [165
167]. In blueberries, polyphenols include flavonoids,
procyanidins (monomeric and oligomeric form), flavonols
(i.e., kaempferol, quercetin, and myricetin), phenolic acids
(mainly hydroxycinnamic acids), and derivatives of stil-
benes [165]. Grapes possess strong antioxidant activity due
to the variety of phytochemicals they contain, such as
phenolic acids, stilbenes, anthocyanins, and proantho-
cyanins (amounts vary based on the variety). ey have
been shown in vitro and in vivo to inhibit cancer cell
proliferation, reduce platelet aggregation, and lower cho-
lesterol [167].
6.1. Concord Grape Juice. Daily intake of Concord grape
juice over three to four months has been shown to improve
memory function in adults with mild cognitive impairment
[168]. Healthy mothers who consumed twelve ounces of
Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism 11
either Concord grape juice or an energy-matched placebo
daily for twelve weeks showed significant improvements in
immediate spatial memory and driving performance with
the grape juice compared with placebo [168]. ese effects
are not limited to those who are older in age or after chronic
consumption. Haskell-Ramsay et al. [169] found that 230 mL
purple grape juice improved reaction time on an attention
measure and increased calm ratings in twenty healthy young
adults compared with a sugar-matched control. While there
are many mechanisms postulated for why grape juice may be
helpful for the brain, one interesting mechanism is that it
seems to modulate brain-derived neurotrophic factor
(BDNF) as shown in an animal study [170].
6.2. Blueberries. Studies with animals suggest that blueberry
supplementation of the diet may help with cognitive tasks.
Willis et al. [171] found that supplementing aged animals at
2% of the diet (equivalent to ½ cup per day for humans)
improved performance in the radial arm water maze, the
Morris water maze, a step-down inhibitory avoidance task,
and a footshock-motivated 14-unit T-maze, along with re-
versing cognitive decline in an object recognition test.
In addition to animal studies, there are several clinical
trials demonstrating that blueberry may help cognition in
older adults [172]. In a study with thirteen men and twenty-
four women between the ages of 60 and 75 years, freeze-
dried blueberry (24 g/day, equivalent to one cup of fresh
blueberries) led to significantly fewer repetition errors in the
California Verbal Learning Test and reduced switch cost on a
task-switching test across study visits, relative to controls. A
single dose of a flavonoid-rich blueberry drink produced
significant improvements in the delayed recall of a pre-
viously learned list of words just two hours after con-
sumption in children aged eight to ten years compared with
a matched control [173]. A similar study [174] in seven- to
ten-year-old children found significant wild blueberry-
related improvements in cognition, such as final immedi-
ate recall at 1.15 hours, delayed word recognition sustained
over each period, and accuracy on high-demand cognitive
trials with increased interference at three hours. In a larger
clinical trial with 16,010 participants 70 years [175], greater
intakes of blueberries and strawberries were associated with
slower rates of cognitive decline, specifically equivalent to
delay cognitive aging by up to 2.5 years.
Aside from cognitive measures, inclusion of blueberry in
the diet may help with mood, as has been shown in children
and young adults [176]. Similar to the effects found for grape
juice, blueberry supplementation seems to have an effect on
cognition most likely through its effects on hippocampal
BDNF mRNA expression as shown in young rats [177]. In
addition, berries may help to reduce inflammation and
improve cell survival and neuroplasticity [178].
7. Practical Ways to Get More Colorful Fruits
and Vegetables
e concept proposed in this paper of “eating by color”
could be tracked through a questionnaire that allows an
individual to check boxes each time they have fulfilled their
daily requirement of a color corresponding to an acceptable
plant-based food item. is type of tracking method has
been used by the author with a high degree of receptivity by
individuals attempting to eat a healthier diet. Counting
colors rather than calories may be a more effective way to
engage long-term lifestyle change, although that concept has
yet to be tested. Using this simplified approach to food may
also help the category of restrained eaters, who tend to have
low self-esteem [179], higher stress [180], and disordered
eating patterns compared with nonrestrained eaters.
ere have been several methods to help individuals
increase their fruit and vegetable intake (Table 4). One of
them is to encourage greater variety. Ahern et al. [181] found
that vegetable consumption was promoted when variety and
frequency of vegetables were increased for children between
six and twelve months. Furthermore, a lunch study [182]
with students showed that having vegetable options leads to
increased propensity to choose vegetables and results in a
more balanced meal. Other ideas for greater variety could
involve nutrition education in school and implementation of
concepts through school gardens [183, 184].
Variety could also include different formats of foods. e
variations on raw, steamed, or boiled fruits and vegetables
are vast and encompass the use of spices, seasonings, and
herbs, blended fruit and vegetable drinks, herbal teas, fruit-
and-vegetable-infused waters, juices, and whole-food pow-
ders. In one study [185], people who did not often consume a
vegetable with lunch while dining out were 1.59 times more
likely to select the seasoned vegetables over steamed vege-
tables. erefore, given a choice, consumers may opt for a
seasoned vegetable. Furthermore, incorporating vegetable
juices and powders may also be helpful for those having
difficulty in making time to prepare vegetables. Drinking
vegetable juices or adding in juice powders based on tomato,
carrot, or spinach was shown to reduce DNA damage and
strand breaks in lymphocyte DNA in healthy individuals
after several weeks’ intake. e carrot juice intervention led
to significantly reduced oxidative base damage [186].
Another way to emphasize fruit and vegetable intake is to
eat more meals at home versus in a restaurant. Eating home-
cooked meals was associated with increased consumption of
fruits and vegetables and greater adherence to plant-based
diets such as the Mediterranean diet. ose eating from
home more than five times compared with less than three
times weekly consumed 62.3 grams more fruit and
97.8 grams more vegetables daily [187].
Establishing a supportive community may also be pivotal
to behavior change related to fruit and vegetable contact.
Role modeling by parents correlates with fruit and vegetable
intake by children [188]. Social relationships have been
associated with dietary behavior [189]. Conklin et al. [189]
found for both men and women that less contact with
friends was correlated with less variety of fruit and vegetable
intake, although the trend was more significant for men.
Finally, for the younger generation, it has been suggested
that bringing in elements of fruits and vegetables into video
game development could be one possible strategy to increase
receptivity to healthy eating [190].
12 Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism
8. Summary
In conclusion, there are numerous benefits to eating plant-
based foods, especially fruits and vegetables. Since the di-
etary intake continues to be less than what is recommended,
it is important to develop clinical strategies to consume a
greater quantity of these foods. Associating each of the colors
with a health benefit for ease of remembering to eat a variety
of colorful foods in one such approach may help people to
relate to the health properties of fruits and vegetables.
Ensuring the consumption of a variety of foods will enable
the individual to sample from thousands of phytochemicals
that may help to offset an increased risk of chronic disease.
Conflicts of Interest
e author declares no relevant conflicts of interest.
e author thanks Kendra Whitmire for compiling the color
density information in Table 1 and Jeffrey Bland, PhD,
Miguel Toribio-Mateas, BSc (Hons) NMed, PgDip, MSc, and
Benjamin Brown, ND, for providing the instrumental
feedback and insights.
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Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism 19
... In part, we sought to understand how the natural complexities of food matrices influenced the accessibility of anthocyanins during gastrointestinal digestion, in relation to overall starch digestibility. Incorporating phytochemicals into our daily diets has been encouraged as a dietary strategy against metabolic complications [17], such as postprandial hyperglycaemia. Despite a general understanding of the benefits of anthocyanin intake, there still has been limited validation of the modulatory effects of anthocyanins specifically in the presence of food matrices commonly found in our diets, where there is the most translational relevance. ...
Full-text available
Anthocyanins reduce starch digestibility via carbohydrase-inhibitory pathways, but food matrix effects during digestion may also influence its enzymatic function. Understanding anthocyanin-food matrix interactions is significant as the efficiency of carbohydrase inhibition relies on anthocyanin accessibility during digestion. Therefore, we aimed to evaluate the influence of food matrices on black rice anthocyanin accessibility in relation to starch digestibility in common settings of anthocyanin consumption—its co-ingestion with food, and consumption of fortified food. Our findings indicate that black rice anthocyanin extracts (BRAE) had reduced intestinal digestibility of bread to a larger extent for the co-digestion of BRAE with bread (39.3%) (4CO), than BRAE-fortified bread (25.9%) (4FO). Overall anthocyanin accessibility was about 5% greater from the co-digestion with bread than fortified bread across all digestion phases. Differences in anthocyanin accessibility were also noted with changes to gastrointestinal pH and food matrix compositions—with up to 10.1% (oral to gastric) and 73.4% (gastric to intestinal) reductions in accessibility with pH changes, and 3.4% greater accessibility in protein matrices than starch matrices. Our findings demonstrate that the modulation of starch digestibility by anthocyanin is a combined result of its accessibility, food matrix composition, and gastrointestinal conditions.
... Again, the brown Jasmine rice 105 and Kiaw-Ngu glutinous rice had no βcarotene ( Figure 2D). Orange fruits such as mandarins, oranges, tangerines, papaya, peaches, and persimmons contain β-carotene (Minich, 2019). Thus, it is explainable that the Riceberry rice and Sangyod rice with the yelloworange-red spectra had β-carotene. ...
Rice grains are the main crops consumed by more than half of the world’s population. White rice contains carbohydrates, while pigmented rice varieties are more nutritious, with bioactive compounds that can potentially prevent pro-inflammatory diseases like diabetes and hypertension. Broken rice is produced in large quantities as a cheap by-product of milling; however, its nutraceutical contents have not been identified. Therefore, the research aimed to examine four low-cost broken rice varieties’ color values and bioactive compound contents. Kiaw-Ngu glutinous rice (white rice) and brown Jasmine rice 105 were used as control, while Riceberry rice and Sangyod rice represented pigmented rice varieties. Color values were analyzed using the RHS color chart and the CIE L*a*b* color space system. Antioxidant activity was measured using DPPH assay, while total phenolic compounds were determined by the Folin–Ciocalteu’s method. Water-soluble vitamins (B1, 2, and 6) and fat-soluble vitamins (E and -carotene) were determined using HPLC. The analyzed results illustrated that the Riceberry rice had the most potent antioxidant activity (83.45%), followed by Sangyod rice, brown Jasmine rice 105, and Kiaw-Ngu glutinous rice, respectively. Similarly, Riceberry rice contained the highest level of total phenolic acid (236.98 mg gallic acid equivalent (GAE)/g). Vitamin B1 level is highest in the Riceberry rice, while vitamin B2 level was comparably highest in the Riceberry rice and Sangyod rice. However, vitamin B6 was not detectable in any strains of the rice varieties. The Riceberry rice and Sangyod rice also contained vitamin E and β-carotene. In conclusion, pigmented rice grains possess antioxidant activity, phenolic acids, vitamins B1, B2, E, and β-carotene.
... Blue and purple foods are rich in flavonoids and polyphenols which play a vital role in learning, memory, and mood by modulating the brain-derived neurotrophic factor. [6] Thus, CT helps to manage and prevent diseases and promote health. At the outset, very limited evidence and awareness are available for CT. ...
... The shifts in this paradigm are the end consequence of numerous years of science-based work. For instance, findings from the community and experimental studies typically suggest the health-protective benefits of diets high in foods originating from plants [82]. The emphasis on nutrition and diet also focuses on preventing micro-nutrient deficiencies (vitamins, minerals, etc.) and mitigating the effects of chronic diseases, such as obesity [83]. ...
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Microgreens, a hypothesized term used for the emerging food product that is developed from various commercial food crops, such as vegetables, grains, and herbs, consist of developed cotyledons along with partially expanded true leaves. These immature plants are harvested between 7–21 days (depending on variety). They are treasured for their densely packed nutrients, concentrated flavors, immaculate and tender texture as well as for their vibrant colors. In recent years, microgreens are on demand from high-end restaurant chefs and nutritional researchers due to their potent flavors, appealing sensory qualities, functionality, abundance in vitamins, minerals, and other bioactive compounds, such as ascorbic acid, tocopherol, carotenoids, folate, tocotrienols, phylloquinones, anthocyanins, glucosinolates, etc. These qualities attracted research attention for use in the field of human health and nutrition. Increasing public concern regarding health has prompted humans to turn to microgreens which show potential in the prevention of malnutrition, inflammation, and other chronic ailments. This article focuses on the applications of microgreens in the prevention of the non-communicable diseases that prevails in the current generation, which emerged due to sedentary lifestyles, thus laying a theoretical foundation for the people creating awareness to switch to the recently introduced category of vegetable and providing great value for the development of health-promoting diets with microgreens.
... Among them, carotenoids, flavonoids, and resveratrol are the components that impact health the most. In addition, the majority of plant-based foods include many pigments, often each matching to a phytonutrient (Minich, 2019). Consequently, the consumption of plant-based diets is substantially associated with a reduction in chronic disease (Liu, 2013). ...
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This research aimed to develop a nutritious instant purple sweet potato soup (PSP) combination with a variety of vegetables and freeze-dried chicken. The nutritional characteristics of the product were evaluated. The current study employs principal component analysis (PCA), consumer preference mapping, and check-all-that-apply (CATA) data processing to describe sensory instant mixed soup attributes. The results showed that the soup was made from the formula F2 (PSP flour 47.5%, orange-fleshed sweet potato flour 12.5%, potatoes 6%, banana 7%, mushroom 8%, petit poise 3%, pumpkin 5%, protein powder 5% and cream powder 6%) gave good quality, high sensory value and attractive colors product. The PCA identified important soup attributes such as sweetness, milk flavor, vegetable odor, and color. Adding 15% freeze-dried chicken improved the quality of mixed soup products with energy distribution from macronutrients: proteins 24%, carbohydrates 65%, and lipids 10%. The anthocyanin and β-carotene content analyzed from the product was 13.1 mg/100 g and 370.2 μg/100 g. Score analysis according to the CATA model with two main components accounting for 95.57% of the variance in sensory attribute data, showing liking attributes of mixed soup sample that the panelists preferred in color, flavor, chicken meat distribution, and sweetness. The essential nutritional characteristics of mixed soup have been carefully analyzed.
... In some of the menus of public and private schools, the Side dish of vegetables and legumes was not described in all meals. Vegetables, due to their nutritional characteristics [26], are foods with recognized health benefits, as they contain a lot of fiber, vitamins, minerals and are very rich in phytochemicals [27]. Thus, its inclusion in the dish at all meals should be privileged [28]. ...
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Introduction: School is a privileged and decisive place for health promotion. School cafeterias are responsible for offering adequate food for the energy and nutritional needs of children, providing complete, balanced, and varied meals to encourage healthy eating habits. Objective: To evaluate the quality of 1st cycle school menus in public and private schools in the greater Lisbon region. Methods: Cross-sectional analytical observational study carried out in 1st cycle schools in Greater Lisbon. Thirty-six menus (lunch meal) were evaluated, covering a total of 204 schools (32 private and 172 public). The menus were obtained over 4 consecutive weeks and evaluated with the SPARE System of Planning and Evaluation of School Menus software. Results: The public schools’ menus presented a better overall assessment compared to private schools. Regarding the item “soup”, 25% of the public menus and 46.8% of the private ones were not acceptable. The item “meat, fish and eggs” was considered unacceptable in 75% of the menus of public schools and 87.5% of private ones. The side items “cereals, derivatives and tubers” and “vegetables and legumes” presented discrepant results. In private schools, 65.6% and 84.3% of the menus were not acceptable for cereals and vegetables, respectively. On the contrary, in public schools, 75% of the menus were good or very good in cereals and very good in vegetables. In relation to “dessert”, 50% of public schools and 34.3% of private schools had very good menus. However, the remaining 50% of the public menus and 31.2% of the private ones were not acceptable. Conclusion: In general, there seems to be a trend towards better results in the evaluation of public-school menus. However, all the schools evaluated reveal a need for improvement in the preparation of the menu plan, which must comply with the guidelines on school menus and cafeterias of the General Directorate of Education.
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Cancer is one the most malignant diseases that is a leading cause of death worldwide. Vegetables and fruits contain beneficial nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, folates, dietary fibers, and various natural bioactive compounds. These can prevent the pathological processes of many cancers and reduce cancer related mortality. Specifically, the anti-cancer effect of vegetables and fruits is largely attributable to the natural bioactive compounds present within them. A lot of bioactive compounds have very specific colors with pigments and the action of them in the human body varies by their color. Red-pigmented foods, such as apples, oranges, tomatoes, cherries, grapes, berries, and red wine, have been widely reported to elicit beneficial effects and have been investigated for their anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidative properties, as well as anti-cancer effect. Most of the anti-cancer effects of bioactive compounds in red-pigmented foods arise from the suppression of cancer cell invasion and metastasis, as well as the induction of apoptosis and cell cycle arrest. In this review, we assessed publications from the last 10 years and identified 10 bioactive compounds commonly studied in red-pigmented foods: lycopene, anthocyanin, β-carotene, pectin, betaine, rutin, ursolic acid, kaempferol, quercetin, and myricetin. We focused on the mechanisms and targets underlying the anti-cancer effect of the compounds and provided rationale for further investigation of the compounds to develop more potent anti-cancer treatment methods.
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Obesity is an established risk factor for metabolic disease. This study explores the functional complementation of anti-adipogenic phytonutrients for obesity prevention and management. Nine phytonutrients were selected based on their ability to affect the expression of one or more selected adipogenic biomarker proteins. The phytonutrients include berberine, luteolin, resveratrol, fisetin, quercetin, fucoidan, epigallocatechin gallate, hesperidin, and curcumin. The selected adipogenic biomarker proteins include PPARɣ, SREBP1c, FASN, PLIN1, FABP4, and β-catenin. Individually, phytonutrients had variable effects on the expression level of selected adipogenic biomarker proteins. Collectively, the functional complementation of nine phytonutrients suppressed de novo fatty acid biosynthesis via the negative regulation of PPARɣ, FASN, PLIN1, and FABP4 expression; activated glycolysis via the positive regulation of SREBP1c expression; and preserved cell–cell adhesion via the inhibition of β-catenin degradation. In primary human subcutaneous preadipocytes, the composition of nine phytonutrients had more potent and longer lasting anti-adipogenic effects compared to individual phytonutrients. In a diet-induced obesity murine model, the composition of nine phytonutrients improved glucose tolerance and reduced weight gain, liver steatosis, visceral adiposity, circulating triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and inflammatory cytokines and chemokines. The functional complementation of anti-adipogenic phytonutrients provides an effective approach toward engineering novel therapeutics for the prevention and management of obesity and metabolic syndrome.
In 2020, Texas was overrepresented in food insecure households. One avenue many food insecure households take to subsidize their food intake is the use of food pantries. Previous literature has identified many efforts to incorporate nutritional information and foods at pantry sites. However, few have considered how religious affiliation can impact organizational structure and agents in regards to nutritional focus. The purpose of this paper is to investigate perceptions of nutritional information, behaviors, and policies of the volunteers at our research sites and the how pantry operations impact the deployment of that information to clients. Our research question asks how do the religious elements of our research sites impact nutritional policy and concerns of food pantries? Using analysis of field notes generated from participant observation at 5 of the religiously-affiliated food pantries in Brazos County, TX, and a verbal survey on organizational nutrition policy administered to food pantry volunteers, we find that religious cultures at these food pantries create barriers to nutrition complementary to hegemonic nutrition. Our findings suggest that interventions targeting the improvement of organizational nutrition policy at local food pantries must consider organizational culture more critically, particularly religious elements.
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Ginger, the rhizome of Zingiber officinale, which is used as a spice globally has a long history of medicinal use that stimulates investigators to assess its potential roles as an adjuvant therapy or alternative medicine in a range of diseases. Anti‐inflammatory, antioxidant, antitumor, and antiulcer effects of ginger have been proven in many scientific studies, and some of the ancient applications of ginger as a home remedy has been confirmed in human. In this review, we summarized the current evidence on the effects of ginger consumption on gastrointestinal disorders based on clinical trials. Our data indicate that divided lower daily dosage of 1500 mg ginger is beneficial for nausea relief. Because of limited number of studies on some other gastrointestinal disorders, the results may not be as much powered as to find significant results. Therefore, more extensive and well‐controlled human studies of ginger or its standard extracts are required to demonstrate its efficacy as a gastroprotective agent. Dose‐finding studies should be undertaken to accurately determine the effective dose and preparation of ginger in further clinical trials protocol.
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The proliferation of the video game era has increased sedentary behaviours among children and adolescents. Contemporary interventions involve the use of video games to introduce fruit and vegetable (F&V) consumption among children and adolescents. A comprehensive list of licenced video games (n = 671) released for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) console were reviewed for thematic content and qualitative characteristics of the game’s activity relevant to F&V. Seventy-five video games were included in the study sample and categorised by release year, prevalence of F&V, and thematic content. Mild associations were found comparing release year to F&V totals (r = 0.21) and release year to theme (r = 0.19). F&V themes embedded within classic video games could serve as health-promoting lessons for forthcoming video games. Future games produced by the video gaming industry should continue to focus on nutrition-embedded messages promoting F&V. Video game development and marketing could be an avenue that incorporates healthy nutrition themes.
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Purpose Short-term trials indicate inorganic nitrate and nitrate-rich vegetables may have vascular health benefits. However, few observational studies have explored the relationship between nitrate intake and long-term cardiovascular disease (CVD) outcomes. The primary aim of this study was to investigate the association of nitrate intake from vegetables with CVD mortality in a sample of older Australians. Methods A subgroup of participants without diabetes or major CVD at baseline (1992–1994) were included from the Blue Mountains Eye Study, a population-based cohort study of men and women aged ≥ 49 years. Diets were evaluated using a validated food frequency questionnaire at baseline, 5 years and 10 years of follow-up. Vegetable nitrate intake was estimated using a comprehensive vegetable nitrate database. Cox proportional hazard regression was used to explore the association between vegetable nitrate intake and CVD mortality. Results During 14 years of follow-up, 188/2229 (8.4%) participants died from CVD. In multivariable-adjusted analysis, participants in quartile 2 [69.5–99.6 mg/day; HR 0.53 (95% CI 0.35, 0.82)], quartile 3 [99.7–137.8 mg/day; HR 0.51 (95% CI 0.32, 0.80)], and quartile 4 [> 137.8 mg/day; HR 0.63 (95% CI 0.41, 0.95)] of vegetable nitrate intake had lower hazards for CVD mortality compared to participants in quartile 1 (< 69.5 mg/day). Conclusions In older Australian men and women, vegetable nitrate intake was inversely associated with CVD mortality, independent of lifestyle and cardiovascular risk factors. These findings confirm a recent report that intake of vegetable nitrate lowers the risk of CVD mortality in older women and extend these findings to older men.
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Background: We aimed to estimate the association between dietary carrot intake and risk of breast cancer by conducting a meta-analysis of epidemiologic studies. Methods: Relevant studies were identified by searching databases through September 2017. We included studies that reported risk estimates with 95% confidence intervals for the association between dietary carrot intake and breast cancer risk. Random-effects models were used to calculate the summary risk estimates. Publication bias was estimated using Begg's funnel plot and Egger's regression asymmetry test. Results: A total of 10 articles met the eligibility criteria and were included in the meta-analysis involving 13,747 cases. The combined odds ratios (ORs) of breast cancer for the highest compared with the lowest dietary carrot intake was 0.79 (95% CI: 0.68, 0.90), and a significant heterogeneity was observed. In the subgroup analyses separated by study design, the inverse associations were more pronounced in the case-control studies than in the cohort studies, while the associations did not significantly differ by geographical region, study quality, exposure assessment. Omission of any single study had little effect on the combined risk estimate. Conclusion: The overall current literatures suggested that dietary carrot intake was associated with decreased risk of breast cancer.
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The importance of vegetable diversity for the risk of falling and fractures is unclear. Our objective was to examine the relationship between vegetable diversity with injurious falling and fractures leading to hospitalization in a prospective cohort of older Australian women (n = 1429, ≥70 years). Vegetable diversity was quantified by assessing the number of different vegetables consumed daily. Vegetable intake (75 g servings/day) was estimated using a validated food frequency questionnaire at baseline (1998). Over 14.5 years, injurious falls (events = 568, 39.7%), and fractures (events = 404, 28.3%) were captured using linked health records. In multivariable-adjusted Cox regression models, women with greater vegetable diversity (per increase in one different vegetable/day) had lower relative hazards for falls (8%; p = 0.02) and fractures (9%; p = 0.03). A significant interaction between daily vegetable diversity (number/day) and total vegetable intake (75 g servings/day) was observed for falls (pinteraction = 0.03) and fractures (pinteraction < 0.001). The largest benefit of higher vegetable diversity were observed in the one third of women with the lowest vegetable intake (<2.2 servings/day; falls HR 0.83 95% CI (0.71–0.98); fractures HR 0.74 95% CI (0.62–0.89)). Increasing vegetable diversity especially in older women with low vegetable intake may be an effective way to reduce injurious fall and fracture risk.
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Chronic non-communicable diseases (CNCD) are the leading cause of mortality in developed countries. They ensue from the sum of modern anthropogenic risk factors, including high calorie nutrition, malnutrition, sedentary lifestyle, social stress, environmental toxins, politics and economic factors. Many of these factors are beyond the span of control of individuals, suggesting that CNCD are inevitable. However, various studies, ours included, show that the use of intermittent challenges with hormetic effects improve subjective and objective wellbeing of individuals with CNCD, while having favourable effects on immunological, metabolic and behavioural indices. Intermittent cold, heat, fasting and hypoxia, together with phytochemicals in multiple food products, have widespread influence on many pathways related with overall health. Until recently, most of the employed challenges with hormetic effects belonged to the usual transient live experiences of our ancestors. Our hypothesis; we conclude that, whereas the total inflammatory load of multi-metabolic and psychological risk factors causes low grade inflammation and aging, the use of intermittent challenges, united in a 7–10 days lasting hormetic intervention, might serve as a vaccine against the deleterious effects of chronic low grade inflammation and it's metabolic and (premature) aging consequences.
Numerous studies have reported that the glycaemic response to starch-rich meals can be reduced by 20-50 % with acidic drinks or foods. A number of candidate explanations have been put forward, but this phenomenon still remains vaguely understood. This study intends to demonstrate the remarkable effect of acid inhibition of salivary α-amylase during oro-gastric hydrolysis of starch, shedding light on this often overlooked mechanism. Oro-gastric digestions of bread, wheat and gluten-free pastas, combined with either water or lemon juice were performed using a dynamic in vitro system that reproduces gastric acidification kinetics observed in humans. In the presence of water, large proportions of starch (25-85 %) and oligosaccharides (15-50 %) were released from all foods within the first hour of gastric digestion (pH > 3.5). In the presence of lemon juice (pH < 3.5 at all time), starch release was about twice as low, and amylolysis into oligosaccharides was completely interrupted. Acid-inhibition of salivary α-amylase may explain, at least in part, the reduction of the blood glucose response through acidification of starch-rich foods/meals. This offers new perspectives for the development of strategies to improve the glycaemic response elicited by starch-rich diets.
Polyphenols are a large family of phytochemicals with great chemical diversity, known to be bioactive compounds of foods, species, medicinal plants and nutraceuticals. These compounds are ingested through the diet in significant amounts, around 1 g per day, an amount that be may be increased through supplements. The in vitro action of many representative polyphenols has been reported. However, their beneficial effects and their role in modulating the risk of high-prevalence diseases are difficult to demonstrate due to the wide variability of polyphenol structures and bioactive actions; the complexity of estimating the polyphenol content of food as a result of their variability in foods and cooked dishes; the potential modulation of the effects of polyphenols by food matrices; the addition of polyphenols and their synergistic interactions with each other and with other dietary bioactive components; the modulation of polyphenol bioavailability as a consequence of food composition and culinary techniques; their metabolism by the human body and the polyphenol gut microbiota metabolism in each metabotypes. Computational strategies, including virtual screening, shape-similarity-screening and molecular docking, were recently used to identify potential targets of polyphenols and thus gain a better understanding of the therapeutic effects exerted of polyphenols and modify natural polyphenol structures to potentiate specific activities. Here, we present the most relevant current knowledge and propose directions for future research in these fields, from the culinary world to the clinical setting. We hope this commentary will prompt scientists and clinicians to consider the therapeutic value of bioactive polyphenols and help shed some light on how much scientific truth lies in Hippocrates' famous quote: "Let your food be your medicine".
Stress induced gastric ulcer is a serious health problem in diabetic patients. Some studies reported that hesperidin (HDN), a citrus bioflavonoid, can bind to and stimulate peroxisome proliferator-activator receptor-gamma (PPAR-γ) which may mediate its antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects. This work aims to study the possible protective effect of HDN against stress induced gastric ulcer in diabetic rats as well as the possible involvement of PPARγ in this effect. Type 2 diabetes was induced using streptozotocin and nicotinamide. Diabetic rats received either HDN (100 mg/kg/day, orally) & omeprazole (20 mg/kg/day, orally) or HDN (100 mg/kg/day, orally) + GW9662, PPARγ antagonist, (1 mg/kg/day, i.p.) for 8 weeks then acute gastric injury was induced by cold restraint stress technique. Glycemic controls and gastroprotective effects were evaluated by measuring serum levels of glucose and insulin, gastric free and total acidity and gastric ulcer indices. Histopathological examination of gastric mucosa was also performed. To determine the underlying mechanism of action, gastric mucosal expression of nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 (Nrf2), hemeoxygenase-1 (HO-1), cluster of differentiation 45 (CD45), cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), nuclear factor kappa B (NFκB) and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), gastric contents of reduced glutathione (GSH), malondialdehyde (MDA), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and nitric oxide (NO); as well as superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase activities were measured. HDN significantly improved glycemic level; it also reduced gastric acidity and gastric ulcer index and histopathological changes comparable to that produced by omeprazole. Moreover, HDN reduced lipid peroxidation and inflammatory markers levels and enhanced antioxidant capacity. The use of GW9662 significantly abrogated the gastric protective effect of HDN as well as reduced the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Our work showed, for the first time that, HDN has promising protective effect against stress induced gastric ulcer in diabetic rats through activation of PPARγ.
Betalains are unique nitrogen-containing pigments found exclusively in families of the Caryophyllales order and some higher order fungi, where they replace anthocyanin pigments. Betalains, consisting of betacyanins and betaxanthins are generally used as color additives in food. This review discusses on the favorable effects of acute and chronic consumption of betalains, whose edible sources consist primarily of red beetroots (Beta vulgaris) and prickly pears (fruit of the Opuntia genus of cacti). Moreover, it encompasses in vivo and in vitro studies about the bioavailability and bioaccessibility of betanin and indicaxanthin. It seems that treatment with betalains and betalain-rich diets is not only non-toxic but could also prove to be a promising alternative to supplement therapies in oxidative stress-, inflammation-, and dyslipidemia-related diseases such as stenosis of the arteries, atherosclerosis, hypertension, and cancer, among others. Due to its toxicological safety, accessibility, low price, biodegradability, and potentially advantageous biological effects on health, the incorporation of betalains in food manufacturing and related industries could pave the way to overcome current concerns over the health risks of artificial colors. Nevertheless, further studies using pure betalains are required to gain a deeper understanding of their precise biological functions.