To get a nutritious balance of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other essential nutrients, try eating a “rainbow diet.” When you choose foods at the produce aisle, use the colors of the rainbow as your guideline. Do you remember “ROY G. BIV,” the acronym many of us learned in school? Use it as your guide to choosing a colorful palette of healthy, organic foods.
Try some of these new and old favorites to liven up your menu and improve your health!
- Red/Bright Pink: Apples, cranberries, cherries, bell peppers, pomegranates, raspberries, tomatoes, strawberries, papayas, grapefruit, watermelons, and guavas are great sources of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. The nutrients in these foods may also help fight heart disease and some cancers.
- Orange: Oranges, bell peppers, carrots, pumpkins, peaches, apricots, sweet potatoes, goji (wolfberries), and cantaloupes contain beta-carotene, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. All these choices enhance your immune system.
- Yellow: Lemons, mangos, corn, pineapples, bananas, yellow bell peppers, and squash contain beta-carotene, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They also contain important immune-enhancing properties.
- Green: Kale, spinach, dark leafy lettuce, seaweed, avocados, zucchini, brussels sprouts, asparagus, peas, and broccoli contain chlorophyll and carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin, which have antioxidant properties. Many of these green foods also contain vitamins (including folate), minerals (like iron, potassium, and calcium), and fiber. They help prevent cancer (particularly of the lung and colon), reduce the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease, and protect your eyes.
- Blue: Blueberries, bilberries, black currants, eggplants, and blackberries contain flavonoids, phytochemicals, and antioxidants as well as a pigment called anthocyanin, currently being studied for its role in protecting the body against harmful carcinogens. These foods also contain fiber, which is helpful in the prevention of colon cancer, and they have antidiabetic properties.
- Violet/Indigo: Grapes, black beans, black cherries, prunes, raisins, boysenberries, mangosteens, passion fruit, purple cabbage, plums, and flowers from sage, rosemary, and thyme plants contain flavonoids, antioxidants, vitamin D, phytochemicals, and fatty acids (essential to proper brain function).
In addition to these foods, white foods (such as onions, garlic, chives, scallions, and leeks) contain allicin, an element that helps fight high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Allicin also increases the body’s ability to fight infections and inhibits the growth of prostate, stomach, and colon cancer cells. Horseradish contains glucosinolate (an anticancer and antibacterial compound), as well as calcium, potassium, and vitamin C.
Incorporating these colorful “super foods” into your diet can help you improve or maintain your health. As “whole foods,” they are created by nature so each one is rich in many different nutrients and vitamins. Eating well is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Discover how much fun it is to be good. “Paint your plate” and eat from the rainbow every day!