Yes, we want you to taste a rainbow – but not the kind that comes in a bright red candy bag! Eating a variety of colorful foods with every meal is vital for boosting maximum nutrition. It’s a simple rule to apply to your diet: the more colorful the food on your plate, the more nutrients. Here are some of the benefits of including many different colors on your plate:
The phytochemicals in red fruits and vegetables (such as lycopene and anthocyanins) may help protect against certain cancers, lower risk of diabetes, support eye health, and improve skin appearance. To increase intake of red foods, eat things like:
ORANGE AND YELLOW
Bright orange and yellow foods have those colors due to alpha and beta carotene, which in the body are converted into vitamin A. This essential vitamin helps support immune function, eye health, strong joints and bones, and decreases risk of various cancers and heart disease. Eat more:
- Oranges, tangerines
- Sweet potatoes
- Pumpkin, butternut squash, acorn squash
Green plants are full of chlorophyll, an antioxidant with a host of different health benefits. A main effect is clearing toxins from the body, which means lowering risk of cancer, supporting digestive enzymes and absorption of nutrients, boosting the immune system, increasing energy, and faster tissue healing. Include more of these foods:
- Leafy greens such as: lettuce, kale, spinach, arugula, mixed greens, chard, romaine, etc.
- Brussels sprouts
- Green cabbage
- Zucchini (and other summer squashes)
BLUE AND PURPLE
The deep colors of these fruits and vegetables are brought to you by anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins, a perfect pair of super-charged antioxidants. Amazing for promoting heart and brain function (specifically memory), cellular strength, and for reducing inflammation all over the body. Eat more foods such as:
We know what you’re thinking: white isn’t colorful! Just think of white as the big fluffy clouds that make the rainbow even prettier. These fruits and veggies support bone health, help to lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation, protect against certain cancers, and balance hormones. Incorporate more white foods into your diet by eating more:
As always, choose foods that are in season from each category to maximize nutritional value (and flavor). We have an amazing build-your-own salad recipe here, that’s great for packing in a ton of colorful nutrients.
If we are what we eat, we’d definitely prefer to be a rainbow!
[Credit: Forbes, Jennifer. “The Specific Health Benefits of Eating the Rainbow.” Mind Body Green.]
[Credit: EatingWell Editors. “Eating Well by Color.” EatingWell.]