Leveraging the Impact of Color in Food Products

Choosing a diet with a variety of color is a simple and effective way to ensure you receive quality and diverse nutrition in each meal. Many nutritionists and functional foods experts believe including naturally pigmented foods across different color categories is actually preferred to counting the number of vegetables, fruits, grains, seeds or other healthy categories of foods you consume. When consumers choose different colored foods, they receive quality nutrition from a breadth of sources, which balances their personal nutrition. Each source contains a different profile of minerals and vitamins that create that color, which is essential to the overall health of different organ systems and structures within the body.

Dr. David Herber, the director of the Center for Human Nutrition and author of “What Color is Your Diet?” notes that naturally-colored foods each ‘have unique properties that provide combinations of substances with unique effects on the human body.’ Specific color groups tend to target the health of genes in specific organs, although cross-over exists among the nutritional components in color groupings. For example, some phytochemicals that are usually most prevalent in red and orange foods may also exist in foods that are yellow and green.

While a detailed level of knowledge pertaining to how different colored foods may have specific benefits for different organs or systems is not intuitive to the average consumer, it is intuitive that by including a variety of vibrant colors in your diet one maintains better health. This is because natural pigments from foods indicate the presence of nutrients and vitamins, and colorful foods are often a tastier and more naturally appealing choice. The superior nutrition, flavor, and taste in colorful foods is innate knowledge that individuals can rely on to create a method to keep shopping for healthful foods simple.

Shopping for colorful foods creates an easy and almost primal strategy to choose healthful foods and cooking habits by regularly choosing meals that are nourishing and sustainable in a time when diets and trends are confusing and constantly changing. Rather than expecting individuals to keep track of which colors contain which nutrients or count how many servings of categories of foods they eat in a day, they can simply make an effort to eat a variety of colors to balance their nutrition. This fun and intuitive way for individuals to make decisions in the store and while preparing meals at home promotes the purchase of foods with vibrant pigments, which extends beyond fruits and vegetables to other categories of foods including grains, seeds, and pulses.

What makes colorful food so nutritious?

Naturally pigmented foods, such as blueberries, purple corn or red lentils, contain phytochemicals such as flavonoids and tannins that create bright colors and show evidence of nutritive value. Phytochemicals work synergistically with vitamins, minerals, and fibers to promote overall health. Thousands of phytochemicals have been identified and are continuing to be discovered, and while there are certain phytochemicals classified to different groups of colored foods, many cross-overs exist in multiple food groups. Carotenoids and chlorophyll are natural pigments from raw materials with a plethora of health benefits. Macronutrients including proteins, amino acids, lipids, and sugars also sometimes create rich pigments during the processing of natural foods. Together, these ingredients combine with vitamins and minerals to create welfare for holistic health by complimenting their benefits to make a complete nutritional profile.

Phytochemicals commonly found in colorful foods, such as polyphenols which include procyanidin and flavonoids, have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects. Many polyphenols, which are prevalent in lentils and other pulses, seeds, and colorful foods have been studied for their anti-cancer effects, as well as other health-promoting benefits.

Carotenoids and chlorophylls are natural pigments from raw materials in colorful foods, and some benefits include cancer-fighting properties, lowering inflammation, promoting healthy growth and development, promoting eye health, boosting immunity, cleansing the liver and providing energy.

Reds, purples, blues

  • Carotenoid lycopene – fights free radicals that can damage genes, protects against prostate cancer, heart and lung disease.
  • Antioxidant anthocyanin – water-soluble and highly anti-inflammatory.
    • Purple corn includes CG3, an anthocyanin, one of the most powerful antioxidants in existence.
    • Lutein which promotes eye health
  • Many other carotenoids and retinoids that are found in vitamin A, which may have anti-cancer effects, maintain eye health as you age, and other benefits.
  • Phytonutrients, phenolic acids, and flavonoids which prevent degenerative disease, inflammation, and allergies by fighting free radicals and heavy metal ions.
  • Essential fatty acids helps the absorption of these phytochemicals because they are fat-soluble.

Orange, yellow and green

  • Beta-Cryptothanxin – promotes intracellular communication and may help prevent heart disease
  • Carotenoids beta- carotene converts to vitamin A, and considered the most important type of vitamin A that humans require
  • Carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin which reduces the risk of cataracts and protects eye health.
  • Polyphenols – procyanidin and flavonoids: anti-inflammatory and have antioxidant qualities.
  • Flavanols or condensed tannins: the preferred source of plant-based antioxidants that cannot be synthesized by people, fight neuroendocrine stress and inflammation.

How Can Your Brand Incorporate These Nutrients with Firebird Products?

The categories CPGs can leverage extend beyond fruits and vegetables to foods that are naturally pigmented, including snacks and flours created from colorful plant products such as lentil chips and quinoa crackers.

Color occurring naturally in foods also contributes to their appearance and agreeableness in taste. Nutritive-rich, colorful Firebird products include red lentils, sorghum, and quinoa; purple corn; yellow lentils, and quinoas. Consumers can enjoy these grains and pulses by cooking the grain and foods that incorporate specialty grains and pulses. Food formulators can incorporate the grains and pulses as a whole grain or flour into applications such as snacks, vegetarian meat alternative, plant based culinary savory products, cereals, and nutrition bars. Many of these phytochemicals are complimented by the other nutritive properties of these food sources, such as vitamins and macronutrients. Together, these components work in synergy for better absorption in the body and more nourishing, protective and healing qualities on different organ systems.

Firebird Artisan Crisps deliver carefully sourced ingredients which are certified gluten-free, non-GMO, and derived from whole grains, seeds and pulses. Its 60% protein crisp line incorporates nutrient dense grains and pulses as a differentiated offering to traditional crisps for nutrition bars, snacks and granola.

Contact your Firebird sales lead today to explore product applications or request a sample of these colorful, nutritious ingredients.