Have you ever been told to “eat the rainbow?” This refers to fruits and vegetables and their five color categories - red, purple/blue, orange/yellow, green, and white/brown. Each color comes from the phytochemicals found in the food – compounds produced by plants for survival, and nutrients that help keep us healthy when we eat them!
These phytochemicals give plant foods their flavor, color and odor. They are what make blueberries “blue,” onions bitter, and garlic smell so deliciously strong.
Picking foods with phytochemicals is a healthy choice. Eating the Rainbow can help you boost your immune system, maintain a healthy weight, assist with digestion, and a number of other health boosters.
Here are some examples:
- RED. Red produce contains lycopene and anthocyanins, which are antioxidants. They help to support our heart, can reduce blood pressure, and may balance insulin levels.
- BLUE/PURPLE. These colors are also powerful anthocyanins that work as antioxidants. Like red colors, they support cardiovascular health and those insulin levels.
- ORANGE/YELLOW. Beta-carotene and Vitamin A are in these colors, helping promote healthy mucous membranes. Our eyes love these colors, helping to reduce the risk of cataracts and conditions like macular degeneration.
- GREEN. Greens are great, with carotenoids, with funny terms like indoles, saponins, catechins and epicatechins. What?? Those words alone are a mouthful! Just know green foods are great antioxidants providing a terrific source of Vitamin B (folate). They help balance hormones, support a healthy liver and support our immune function. Bring ON those salads!
- BROWN/WHITE. These colors contain allicin, sulfides and thiols, again, a mouthful. Brown and white foods contain powerful antiviral and antibacterial compounds that help kill harmful bacteria and can reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. What nasty bug can withstand the smell of garlic and onions?
Need some other good reasons to Eat Your Rainbow? Think about these:
- Fruits and vegetables are lower in calories, sodium and unhealthy fats than most other foods.
- Fruits and vegetables have SO MUCH fiber, which fills you up quickly, helping prevent overeating. This fiber content can keep your digestive system M-O-V-I-N-G along easily.
- Fruits and vegetables contain a lot of water, which can help your hydration level.
- Eat the skins of most fruits and veggies, too – a lot of nutrients live there.
Putting these foods in your grocery cart or market basket will help keep you healthier and your cart will look so cute and colorful! Think about this the next time you are shopping, and make sure you leave with the colors of the rainbow!
To Your Vitality!