The Misconception of Color

Filed under: Nutrition

There is a prevailing belief in mainstream media and actually in highly educated nutrition experts that in order for a fruit or vegetable to have maximal nutritrional benefits, it must be rich in color. In many cases this is completely true. When you are eating a fruit or veggie that is colorful, such as a strawberry, you want it to be a beautiful deep red. Unfortunately people have taken this to mean that plants that are naturally color free are low in nutrients and value. False.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. There are a lot of fruits and veggies that are not rich in color, that are absolutely tremendous for you. Cauliflower would be a great example. It is a member of the brassica family, which is like vegetable royalty, also including broccoli, cabbage, kale, and more. It is high in a powerful compound called sulforaphane, a powerful antioxidant that can help reduce cancer risk and is known to detoxify the liver.

Another example of a great, low color veggie are onions. Onions are one of my favorite veggies, containing a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory called quercetin, which is shown to help prevent some cancers and heart disease. Onions are a part of the allium family, which aso contains garlic, scallions, chives, and leeks. The sulfur compounds in onions, including thiosulfinates, sulfides, sulfoxides, and diallyl sulfide (which unfortunately cause the smell) help prevent stomach, prostate and esophageal cancer. Some very powerful stuff.

Clearly we can see that color does not define the health properties in all cases. These are just two of many examples, there are tons of other low color plants that are incredibly healthy such as artichokes, celery, bok choy, endive and more. This again returns to why I do not like the green veggies only idea. There are tons of other fruits and veggies, of all colors of the rainbow, including white, that promote a balanced, delicious, and healthy diet.

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Posted on February 24th, 2009 by Brian St. Pierre


  1. Kevin Says:

    Great point on how you can’t go wrong with colorful fruits and vegetables, but don’t exclude the less colorful ones either. I never knew onions had so much going for it. I think it’s time I finally try to make some mashed cauliflower, possibly with onions.

  2. Paul Says:

    That is a great point on veggie color. I actually had both of those yesterday. Onions at breakfast and lunch, followed by mashed/creamed cauliflower at dinner.

    Cabbage is another veggie that I eat a ton of as well. I get in mixed with carrots and red cabbage and it’s cheaper (in my area) than most salads.

  3. JMJ Says:

    Good post. As a nutritional starting point, I always tell my clients to “eat the rainbow” when making food choices. You really can’t go wrong with various fruits/veggies.

  4. Danny Says:

    I just wish we wouldn’t call them “veggies”.

  5. Kujo Says:

    I love onions. I always put then in any burger or ground beef dishes I make.

    Cabbage is great. I started eating it basically everyday after reading an article on T-Nation about the benefits of it. I alternate between coleslaw, and organic sauerkraut.

  6. Brian St. Pierre Says:

    Cabbage is awesome. I didn’t want to mention it here because I want to do one of my days on it. It will get plenty of attention.

  7. Thursday 10/28/10 | Derby City CrossFit - Louisville, KY Says:

    [...] 3 Rounds 400m Run 21 Kettlebell Swings 12 Chinups CF Football Here CF Endurance Here Veggies Don’t Have to Be Colorful to Be Good for You Going on a Diet? Start Paying in Cash Motivation: From Competence to Mastery Italian Style Stuffed [...]

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