In The Rainbow Explained, I provided a quick overview of the nutritional benefits of different colored fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Now it’s time to dig a little deeper into each color of the natural food rainbow!
In this article, I’ll focus on the incredible powers of yellow fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Let’s dive into the treasure trove of healing, nourishing, and detoxifying nutrients that exist in whole, plant-based yellow foods.
A deeper dive into yellow fruits, vegetables, and legumes
Yellow foods are beneficial because they contain compounds that have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and digestive effects. They also may protect the brain, heart, eyes, and skin.
Yellow fruits include Golden Delicious apples, Asian pears, lemons, pineapples, yellow tomatoes, and starfruit.
Yellow vegetables include corn, yellow bell peppers, rutabagas (yellow turnips), Yukon Gold potatoes, and summer squash. Ginger root is also included in the yellow category.
Yellow legumes include lupini beans, yellow lentils, and wax beans.
Wait, where’s the bananas?
We haven’t forgotten about bananas! However, because the “meat” of the banana is a white color, we will cover the healthy benefits of bananas in our brown/tan/white foods deep dive.
The healthy nutrients and elements in yellow fruits, vegetables, and legumes
Vitamin A (Carotenoids): Carotenoids are plant compounds that can convert to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A has many functions, such as promoting healthy vision and supporting the immune and inflammatory systems, cell growth, reproduction, and bone health. Corn and summer squash are excellent sources of Vitamin A.
B Vitamins (B-Complex Vitamins): The B vitamins are like a little army of troops that provide multiple benefits to your brain, cellular health, cardiovascular system, digestive system, eyesight, muscles, and nervous system. There are eight B vitamins in all, and some or all of them can be found in a range of yellow foods. Corn, lupini beans, pineapples, rutabagas, summer squash, yellow lentils, Yukon Gold potatoes, and wax beans are excellent sources of B Vitamins.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a huge immunity booster and an antioxidant that helps our bodies fight against free radicals that can damage our cells, organs, and tissues. It has been linked to protection against cancer, heart disease, and other ailments. Vitamin C plays an important role in the natural healing process, and it is a building block for your blood vessels, bones, cartilage, and muscles. Asian pears, lemons, pineapples, rutabagas, turnips, starfruit, corn, summer squash, yellow bell peppers, yellow tomatoes, and Yukon Gold potatoes are all rich in Vitamin C.
Calcium: Calcium is most commonly associated with stronger bones and teeth, but it also has many more healthy benefits for your body. It plays an important role in cardiovascular health, the movement of your muscles, your hormonal responses, and your nervous system. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium in the most efficient way, so it’s best to pair calcium-rich foods with foods rich in vitamin D, such as mushrooms, egg yolks, and salmon. Pineapples, rutabagas, starfruit, lupini beans, yellow lentils, and wax beans are good sources of calcium.
Fiber: Fiber provides a wealth of benefits to your well-being: It famously promotes gastrointestinal health (i.e. “keeps you regular”). It also helps regulate blood sugar, lower cholesterol levels, prevent heart disease, and reduce intestinal inflammation. Asian pears, corn, Golden Delicious apples, lupini beans, pineapples, rutabagas, summer squash, yellow lentils, yellow bell peppers, and Yukon Gold potatoes are all good sources of fiber.
Folate: Folate, also known as vitamin B-9 or folic acid, is an important building block for red blood cells and cellular health. Lupini beans, yellow lentils, wax beans, and yellow bell peppers are good sources of folate.
Iron: Iron is synonymous with strength — both inside and outside the body. Your body uses it to create hemoglobin, which delivers oxygenated blood from your lungs to the rest of your body. Iron can increase your energy levels, strengthen your muscles, boost your physical performance, increase brain function, and improve your immune system. The iron found in plants is non-heme iron, which is best absorbed when combined with vitamin C. Most plant foods that contain iron also contain vitamin C, but it doesn’t hurt to add vitamin C-rich foods such as tomatoes, bell peppers, berries, citrus, or greens to aid absorption. Lupini beans, yellow lentils, and wax beans are good sources of iron.
Lutein and zeaxanthin: Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids found in yellow foods, and they’re similar to the beta-carotene found in orange foods and the lycopene found in red foods. They help promote eye health, skin health, and fighting free radicals that can do damage to your body. Summer squash and corn are good sources of lutein and zeaxanthin.
Magnesium: Magnesium is an element that plays an important role in hundreds of chemical reactions throughout your nervous system, cardiovascular system, immune system, and muscular system. Granny Smith apples (with the skin), rutabagas, and Yukon Gold potatoes (with the skin) are great sources of magnesium.
Manganese: Manganese is a mineral with antioxidant properties that plays an important role in the health of your brain, your bones, your reproductive system, and your nervous system. Manganese is a building block for connective tissue and blood clots, and it also helps regulate blood sugar and optimize your metabolism. Lupini beans, pineapples, wax beans, yellow lentils, and Yukon Gold potatoes are good sources of manganese.
Potassium: Potassium is a mineral that helps optimize your heart health, and it also acts as an electrolyte that regulates your blood pressure and strengthens your muscles. Most people think about bananas when they think about potassium, but there are other yellow foods that are potassium-rich. Lupini beans, wax beans, yellow lentils, and Yukon Gold potatoes are good sources of potassium.
Zinc: Zinc is a mineral that is a building block for healthy DNA. It also helps your metabolism and digestive system, and it’s essential to your cellular health, your immune system, and your nervous system. Yellow lentils and Yukon Gold potatoes are good sources of zinc.
Catechins: Catechins are phytochemicals with powerful antioxidant properties, and they’ve been linked to a lower risk of heart disease and the ability to fight against several forms of cancer. Golden Delicious apples (with the skin) are a good source of catechins.
Gingerol: As you may have guessed, gingerol gets its name from ginger, which is the source of this healthy compound. Gingerol is a mighty antioxidant that provides anti-inflammatory effects, aids with digestion, can stimulate the appetite, and can help reduce nausea. Ginger is the primary source of gingerol — which helps explain why ginger has been used as a medicinal remedy for thousands of years.
Glucosinolates: Glucosinolates provide the liver with what it needs to get rid of toxins, and they are also helpful for your intestinal health. Studies have found that they may also help fight against some forms of cancer, especially estrogen-related cancers such as breast and uterine cancer. Glucosinolates contain sulfur, which means that most funky-smelling vegetables are good sources of these powerful compounds. Rutabagas are good sources of glucosinolates.
Quercetin: Quercetin is a flavonoid with antioxidant effects, and it has been linked to protection against cancer, reduced risk of heart disease and high blood pressure, and anti-inflammatory benefits. Golden Delicious apples and lemons are good sources of quercetin.
Complex carbohydrates: Complex carbs are “good carbs.” They’re more nutrient-dense and fiber-rich than simple carbs such as sugars. In fact, complex carbs help regulate blood sugar, which makes them an ideal option for anyone struggling with diabetes. Corn, Golden Delicious apples, yellow lentils, and Yukon Gold potatoes are good sources of complex carbohydrates.
Special tips for getting the most nutrition out of yellow fruits, vegetables, and legumes
Balance yellow foods to regulate blood sugar: As with the other colors of the rainbow, it is recommended that you eat a variety of yellow foods. Some yellow foods, such as squash, corn, and Yukon Gold potatoes, are starchy. That means they should only be eaten in a mixed meal to blunt possible blood sugar responses. High-quality protein or healthy fats may be eaten with starchy foods to further regulate blood sugar.
Be careful with corn and starfruit: Corn is very starchy and high in sugar, and that means you should avoid it or minimize your consumption if you are struggling with diabetes or looking to lose weight. Corn cannot be fully digested by the human body, and many people suffer from corn allergies. Furthermore, starfruit can be dangerous for people with kidney disease. There are natural substances in starfruit that are toxic unless they are processed and filtered by healthy kidneys. As always, please consult your doctor before deciding on the healthiest diet choices for you.
Carotenoids are in yellow foods, too: Orange fruits and vegetables aren’t the only sources of carotenoids. Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids found in yellow foods, and they’re similar to the beta-carotene found in orange foods and the lycopene found in red foods. They help promote eye health, skin health, and fighting free radicals that can do damage to your body. Summer squash is a particularly strong source of lutein and zeaxanthin.
The healing powers of ginger: Ginger contains many antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that have a soothing and calming effect on the body. According to some studies, ginger has even been linked to fighting the effects of cancer. You can grate fresh ginger into tea or into a stir-fry, and you can use powdered ginger in baked products like gluten-free spice bread.
Pineapples and lemons soothe your stomach and help your heart: Pineapple is particularly high in the enzyme bromelain, which can be helpful in breaking down foods during digestion. Lemons are a wonderful addition to water to give you more bioflavonoids, those healthy phytonutrients that work together with vitamin C to reduce the risk of heart attacks and cancer.
Tips for eating lemon peels: Lemon peels are one of the most nutrient-dense parts of the fruit, as they’re loaded with fiber, Vitamin C, and antioxidants. However, even though lemon peels are perfectly safe (and very healthy!) to eat, many people don’t like the bitter taste of citrus peels. If that is the case for you, try grating lemon peel into your salads and smoothies or add lemon peels to your herbal teas.
Explore the other colors of the food rainbow
By consuming every color in the natural food rainbow, you will be flooding your body, systems, organs, cells, and DNA with so many nourishing, healing, and restorative nutrients. Your food will become medicine! Learn how each color in the rainbow can help you experience improvements in joint pain, sleep patterns, energy levels, mood, bloating, headaches, digestive issues, weight, and other conditions.
Orange Foods: Dive Deeper Into the Rainbow
Red Foods: Dive Deeper Into the Rainbow
Green Foods: Dive Deeper Into the Rainbow
Brown, Tan, and White Foods: Dive Deeper Into the Rainbow
Black, Blue, and Purple Foods: Dive Deeper Into the Rainbow
The Rainbow Explained: An Overview of the Benefits of Different Colored Whole Foods