Fruit and Vegetable Pigment Nutrition The 7th Nutrient, Phytochemical
As diet of fresh fruits and vegetables gained importance, interests were also shown toward natural pigment nutrients. Pigment nutrients found in fruits and vegetables are called “phytochemicals (phytonutrients).” Phytochemicals are compounds found in plants that defend against external threats such as microorganisms and insects. It has powerful antioxidant properties in the human body and takes on a very important role in cancer prevention and treatment by preventing cancer development and repressing its metastatic progression. It is also gaining notice as the 7th nutrient that strengthens the body’s immune system and has anti-aging properties.
There are various types of phytochemicals but it is classified into 5 main categories of red (rich in lycopene, quercetin), yellow (containing pigments from carotenoid class), green (rich in chlorophyll, beta-carotene), white (rich in anthoxanthins, indole) and purple (rich in anthocyanin, resveratrol).
With increasing awareness of phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables, numerous campaigns are working throughout the world to spread the importance of the diet containing various fruits and vegetables. ‘5 A Day’ campaign started in US in 1990s advocated ‘eating at least 5 servings from 5 colors of fruits and vegetables daily’ and went on to spread globally as ‘Eat 5 Colors
a Day’ in United Kingdom, ‘The Go For 2 Fruit & 5 Vegetable’ in Australia, ‘2X2 (eat 2 ounce of vegetable and 2 servings of fruit a day)’ in Netherland. In 2012, WHO announced that ‘2.7 million lives could be saved every year just with diet rich in fruits and vegetables.’
Anthocyanin and Phytochemical Levels