Eat the Rainbow
You might have heard the phrase, “eat the rainbow.” In its essence, this phrase means that you want to eat as much variety in the color of fruits and vegetables as possible. While this can sometimes feel challenging at certain times of the year, such as the winter, you can typically still find plenty of produce at local farmer’s markets and co-ops. The overall goal for boosting health factors and increasing your intake of vitamins and minerals is to eat foods that span across the color spectrum! But why do you need to eat so many different colorful foods?
When we think of health, most of us probably correlate this concept with exercise. While working out certainly plays a significant role in our overall wellness, several other factors contribute! Mental health, sleep quality, rest and recovery time, work-life balance, and eating well are also pillars of health.
The eating portion of the foundation of health isn’t just about reducing fast food or fitting in some peas at dinner (although both are excellent goals!). Instead, it’s more along the lines of consuming whole, nutrient-dense foods each day while limiting processed and packaged foods as much as possible.
Compounds called phytochemicals make up the fruits and veggies we eat every day; at the same time, they aren’t nutrients in and of themselves; they have many beneficial properties that help boost health! Phytochemicals aid in producing the colors and tastes of the products we consume, and the colors then translate to having their health benefits – that’s why eating the rainbow is so essential, so that we can absorb a bit of each of these vitamins and minerals each day!
After all, a plethora of colorful fruits and veggies will not only give our health a boost – it’ll boost gut health as well. A wide variety of vegetables are the ideal method of creating and sustaining a healthy microbiome.
Whole, nutrient-dense fruits and veggies are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which combine to improve gut health, among many other factors. Since the immune system is in the gut, it only makes sense that fueling our bodies with nutrient-rich produce and other whole foods correlates with increased health. But how do you know what fruits and veggies to eat, and what are the corresponding health benefits? Let’s dig into some of the most popular colors and helpful information about each one!
Purple and Blue (Anthocyanins)
A pigment within plants that have antioxidant properties; may decrease the risk of heart disease and can aid in preventing high blood pressure. You’ll find plenty of Vitamin C within these colorful fruits and veggies.
Foods rich in anthocyanins include blackberries, cranberries, red onions, eggplant, pomegranate, and blueberries!
Orange and Yellow (Carotenoids)
A pigment found in plants and certain fungi, carotenoids are also powerful antioxidants; they may also protect skin from UV damage, improve vision, and boost the immune system. Vitamin A is a prominent nutrient within this color realm.
Foods rich in carotenoids include sweet potatoes, pumpkins, bell peppers, apricots, carrots, and acorn squash!
An excellent compound that works as an anti-inflammatory; lutein can also increase cardiovascular health and has been shown to improve eye health. You’ll find Vitamins A, C, and E in this color realm.
Foods rich in lutein include collard greens, kale, sweet potatoes, spinach, and asparagus!
Although not often thought of as a “color,” the beneficial properties of allicin have been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, and lower cholesterol.
Garlic is one of the top foods containing allicin; while there aren’t a ton of other fruits and veggies that are white that contain this powerful compound, you’ll still find that items like yogurt and milk pack a big punch regarding boosting health and the immune system.
This nutrient is a significant antioxidant; lycopene decrease cancer risk, improve bone health, and your risk of heart disease. Lots of Vitamin C in these fruits and veggies!
Foods rich in lycopene include tomatoes, grapefruits, bell peppers, watermelon, strawberries, and guava!
While the list above is by no means conclusive, it gives you a solid foundation from which you can begin to incorporate different foods and colors into your diet. With a delightful combination of colorful fruits and veggies in your daily meals, you’ll be doing a service to your body and your health. An improvement in cardiovascular health, healthy skin, a robust immune system, and a decrease in inflammation will all go a long way in boosting your health and wellness in the long run. So now, find some colorful fruits and veggies to begin your day!