A term often heard in the food and nutrition world is “eat the rainbow.” Contrary to popular belief this does not mean, eating a bag of skittles. Eating a variety of different colors of food provides us with different phytonutrients containing certain properties that are crucial for helping our body function. All the nutrients found in fruits and vegetables are in their pigments.
We tend to get stuck in a rut, eating the same foods over and over without thinking about how this affects our health. All fruits and vegetables contain fiber which aids in digestion, phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, so we know eating more fruits and vegetables and whole foods is important. But equally important is the variety of colors we choose. Once we know and understand how foods help us, we can make more informed choices. Let’s look at how the rainbow of colors can promote optimal health.
Red foods such as apples, strawberries or radishes are good for our heart. They contain phytochemicals that fight to keep us healthy and give us lots of energy.
Orange foods such as carrots, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes are high in Vitamin A which helps our eyes see better, and Antioxidants which clean out the insides of our bodies.
Yellow and White foods such as peaches, cauliflower, and potatoes are high in phytochemicals and Vitamin C which are good for our immune system, protecting us from getting sick. They also contain Antioxidants and B Vitamins which are good for our hearts and minds.
Green foods such as kale, broccoli, and spinach are high in calcium for strong bones and teeth. They also contain LOTS of Vitamins A, C, and K which help keep our body healthy along with Antioxidants. I tell my students that green foods are the Avengers of the food world since they are the healthiest color for us doing so much to protect our body and keep us strong.
Blue and Purple foods such as blueberries, grapes, eggplant, and purple cabbage have powerful Antioxidants that protect against diseases. They also have a lot of Flavanoids, which is a type of Phytochemical, that helps our memory. Studies have found that Dementia patients given two cups of blueberries did better on tasks involving memory than those who didn’t receive the blueberries.
So, next time you are out food shopping, check out your cart or basket and see how colorful it looks. What color of the rainbow are you missing? How can you add that in?