White fruits and vegetables may be ugly, but they are healthy

An overhead view of a pile of different white and pale colored fruits and vegetables.

If you’ve never really thought carefully about “pale” fruits and vegetables, you’re not alone.

The brighter colors of the rainbow tend to get all the publicity, but the variety of produce that falls into the pale or white category is pretty expansive: Bananas (after you peel them), cauliflower, garlic, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, potatoes, shallots, turnips, white corn, white peaches and more.

The term “pale” may be why they don’t get a lot of acknowledgement, but they do have a few other issues. Some aren’t just pale, they can be considered downright ugly. Think about it: Have you ever called a potato or a parsnip pretty?

Eating fungus doesn’t sound appetizing, even though you may love mushrooms on your pizza. And some can be stinky (cauliflower) or make your eyes water (onions).

Packed with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients

Push these out of your mind, though, because pale foods pack a lot of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that are important for your overall health. That means they should get a regular spot at the table.

Phytonutrients are those natural, protective substances found in plants that also give them their unique colors. You should be eating fruits and vegetables from all color groups to help ensure you’re getting the nutrients your body needs.

White fruits and vegetables contain the phytonutrients EGCG, allicin, isothiocyanate, quercetin and anthocyanidins. They provide healthy benefits for your bones, circulatory health and arterial function.

Let’s highlight a few of pale superstars:

A slice of a banana with peel.

Banana

Famous for their high potassium levels, bananas are said to help lower blood pressure, which can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. They contain vitamin B6, which is an anti-inflammatory. And some research says that bananas can even help you relax.

If you’re concerned your bananas will become overripe before you eat them, put them in the fridge. This will slow down the ripening process, or peel them and put them in the freezer to add to smoothies.

Don’t put green bananas in the fridge, however. Experts say the cold will prevent them from ever ripening properly.

Potatoes

Potatoes get a bad rap with the carb craze, but they’re filled with nutrition, delivering potassium, vitamin C, fiber and vitamin B6 to your system.

Too much butter and sour cream are where many people over indulge, but you can choose healthier toppings, like salsa or seasoning with a little olive oil.

The National Institute of Health notes that potatoes give you energy, and are low in fat while being high in vitamins and antioxidants. And picky folks who don’t eat the skin? They’re missing out on fiber.

Don’t put them in the refrigerator, but do keep them away from sunlight. They should be kept in a ventilated bag stored in a cool, dry place.

Cauliflower

Cauliflower has gone hip now that it’s become a substitute for pizza dough, mashed potatoes, tacos, fried rice and even grilled cheese. But it’s more than just a substitute for your favorite carb.

Benefits include fiber, vitamins C and B6 and antioxidants. Studies say it decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease while supporting your skin health and increasing your energy.

Store it in a loosely sealed bag with paper towel inside to absorb moisture. Whole heads last four to seven days in the fridge, while pre-cut florets last about a four days.

The open sides of two halves of a sliced pear on a white background face the camera.

Pears

Here’s a fun fact about pears: They are one of the only fruits that do not ripen on the tree—with the exception of Asian pears. So any pear you purchase will most likely need some time to ripen to perfection.

Leave it on your counter—not the fridge—or put it in a paper bag with apples or bananas. Those fruits release ethylene gas, which will speed the ripening process.

What sort of benefits will you get from that juicy pear? They’re a good source of fiber, copper, vitamins C and K and potassium. They also may help with your digestion and cholesterol levels.

Pick pale

So don’t be deterred by ugly, stinky or tear-inducing produce. Make sure you’re picking up your share of pale fruits and vegetables for your weekly meals.

Besides, once you cook it up in your favorite recipe, all you’ll think about is the flavor!

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