Have you heard your doctor or nutritionist talk about the benefits of “eating the rainbow” but aren’t quite sure what that means? When someone tells you to eat the rainbow, they talk about the different colored fruits and vegetables that should fill your plate every day.
The different colors represent different nutrients and health benefits. While eating more vegetables is beneficial, it’s more important to eat a variety of different colored vegetables to increase your intake of various nutrients.
The Benefits of Eating the Rainbow
Fruits and Veggies: watermelon, grapefruit, pink guava, tomatoes, raspberries, red apples, red cherries, rhubarb, cranberries, pomegranate, red peppers, red onions, and beets.
Primary Nutrients: Potassium, folate, Vitamins A, C, and K1.
Health Benefits: Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant. They could help lower the risk of heart disease and certain cancers, and they could also help to reduce the risk of sun-related skin damage.
Fruits and Veggies: Prickly pears and beets.
Primary Nutrients: Magnesium, manganese, potassium, fiber, folate, and Vitamin B6.
Health Benefits: Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. They may benefit heart health and lower the risk of high blood pressure. They may also reduce the risk of certain cancers and benefit athletic performance by increasing oxygen intake.
Oranges and Yellows
Fruits and Veggies: Bananas, sweet potatoes, yellow peppers, carrots, pineapples, tangerines, corn, pumpkin, and winter squash.
Main Nutrients: Potassium, folate, fiber, Vitamins A and C.
Health Benefits: Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can help reduce the risks of heart disease and cancer. They also support eye health.
Fruits and Veggies: Avocados, asparagus, broccoli, kale, spinach, green cabbage, Brussel sprouts, and green herbs.
Primary Nutrients: Potassium, fiber, folate, magnesium, Vitamins A and K1.
Health Benefits: Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Cruciferous vegetables, in particular, could lower the risk of cancer and heart disease.
Blue and Purple
Fruits and Veggies: Plums, elderberries, blackberries, blueberries, concord grapes, eggplant, and red/purple cabbage.
Primary Nutrients: Potassium, manganese, fiber, Vitamins B6, C, and K1.
Health Benefits: Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and may benefit heart health. Also, they may lower the risk of neurological disorders, improve brain function, and lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.
White and Brown
Veggies: Cauliflower, onions, mushrooms, leeks, onions, garlic, parsnips, daikon radish, and white potatoes.
Primary Nutrients: Folate, fiber, magnesium, manganese, potassium, Vitamins B6 and K1.
Health Benefits: Antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties that can help lower the risk of colon and other cancers and may benefit heart health.
10 Tips for a Healthy Diet
- Choose foods that are high in healthy fats. Some options are avocados, cheese, fatty fish and nuts.
- When you try to eat the rainbow, it’s helpful to work it gradually into your diet. Try to start by incorporating two servings a day of a new color. You don’t have to eat every color every day, but your goal should be to eat the rainbow throughout the week.
- Try to eliminate the junk food in your house and stock your fridge with fresh fruits and veggies. When you remove the competition, you are more likely to increase the variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet.
- Keep it simple by eating raw veggies with your favorite dip! Try out carrots and hummus, cucumber and guacamole or celery and tzatziki.
- Try drinking the rainbow by turning these new fruits and veggies into some delicious smoothies. This is a great way to get some extra nutrients into your body in a palatable way. You could also freeze the smoothie and turn it into a popsicle.
- Add some veggies to your breakfast. Most people tend to break their fast with fruits, proteins, or carbs. Adding veggies to breakfast is a great way to round out this meal.
- Use your veggies in unique and creative ways. Try using lettuce as a wrap or using veggies for pasta (maybe only half/half).
- Create a rainbow meal every day. Try taking one meal and using all the colors of the rainbow. This will help you get used to making your meals with eating the rainbow in mind. You could try rainbow wraps, soups, or salads.
- Planning can help take the last-minute decisions out of grocery shopping. Make your shopping list and be sure to include every color of the rainbow. This enables you to make sure you will eat the rainbow over the next week.
- Take supplements as needed. There are some vitamins and minerals that can be difficult to get enough of from just your diet, including vitamin D3, vitamin B12, vitamin A, calcium, and iron.
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