By now, you’ve probably heard the term, “eating the rainbow”. What does that mean and why is it important? In today’s blog post, I’m breaking it down by color and sharing the benefits of the rainbow, hopefully inspiring you to add a little more color to your plate! Before we begin the breakdown by color, it’s important to note that eating the rainbow is not only for those who follow a plant-based diet. It’s important for everyone to eat a variety of plants! Plants contain a wide array of nutrients from macronutrients (protein, fat, carbohydrates) to micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and fiber. Fiber cannot be found in any animal products; it is only found in plants.
Breakdown by Color:
Red. Red-colored foods are rich in anthocyanins and lycopene. They are great for heart and brain health and reducing cancer risks. Examples include beets, cherries, apples, watermelon, berries, grapes, red potatoes, radicchio, and more.
Orange. Orange foods are rich in beta-carotene, curcuminoids and vitamin A. They are great for immune system health, and eye and skin health. Orange foods include oranges, pumpkin, squash, bell peppers, apricots, yams, papaya, peaches, cantaloupe, and more.
Yellow. Yellow foods are rich in lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin C. They promote eye, skin, brain and heart health. Yellow foods include lemons, mangos, yellow peppers, corn, pineapple, squash and more.
Green. Green foods are rich in lutein, isoflavones and vitamin K. They are loaded with antioxidants and folates. These superfoods are great for blood and bone health, liver health & detoxification, and heart health! Green foods include: leafy greens (lettuces, kale, chard, collard, mustard, arugula, spinach), zucchini, cucumbers, kiwi, celery, grapes, leeks, cabbage, brussel sprouts, peas, broccoli and much more.
Blue + Purple. Blue and purple foods are rich in powerful antioxidants that help protect the cells against damage and reduce risk of cancer, stroke and heart disease. They are also packed with nitrates and tannins. Blue and purple foods include: blueberries, blackberries, eggplant, dates, figs, plums, purple cabbage, purple cauliflower, and more.
White + Brown. This is a very interesting conversation because many of us have been taught that “white” foods are bad however, we typically do not see the separation between whole plant white foods and processed white foods. For example, white flour or sugar are not considered healthy foods because they are processed and refined, stripping nutrients.
Whole unprocessed white and brown foods boost liver function are anti-inflammatory and help promote hormone health thanks to tannins and allicins. Healthful white foods include potatoes, onions, garlic, cauliflower, artichokes, mushrooms and more. Healthy brown foods include: mushrooms, potatoes, beans, whole grains, ginger, coconut, brown rice, and more.
As you can see above, there are lots of reasons to eating the rainbow. Not only is it delicious, but it also provides a huge benefit for the body. There is a reason why a plant-based diet has been shown to be healthful and optimal for all stages of life, from infancy to the teenage years, into adulthood and old age. Eating a largely plant-based diet has been linked to lower rates of cancer, heart disease and diabetes and an overall improved quality of life.
I challenge all of you to add more color and more fun to your plates!