We know we need to eat fruits and vegetables each day, yet so many of us fall short. Learning thw WHY behind the benefits can help though!!
You have likely heard that it is important to eat the rainbow of colors each day/week. Or eating the colorwheel! But you may not know the full reason why. First off, we eat with our eyes too. Adding lots of color makes food more appealing and can entice us to scarf down that healthy food! Plus, eating the same things over and over again actually increase our chance to have some food intolerances. So switch things up- choose a variety of protein throughout the week, eat all the colors and pay attention to how you FEEL after comsuming foods. But aruguably the most important reason to eat the full colorwheel is that all colorful foods are rich in phytochemicals that have been shown to support the immune system, protect against certain carcinogens and DNA damage, and regulate hormones, among other benefits.
But not all fruits and vegetables contain the same phytochemicals, or even vitamins and minerals, which is why variety is so important. Color is directly related to what the fruit/vegetable is “good for”. Starting out?? Shoot for consuming 4 different colors in the week. Getting in a ton already? Shoot for 3 different colors per plate!
Below is a guide to the benefits of each color and some common examples to help you add some colorful variety to your meals:
RED: Supports joint health, improves circulation (lowers blood pressure; protects against heart disease), lowers LDL cholesterol, and may protect against prostate, cervical, and lung cancers. Rich in lycopene, folate, and other antioxidants. Examples: Strawberries (my favorite), Rhubarb, Raspberries, Cherries, Tomatoes, Peppers, Onions, Watermelon, Chard, Grapefruit, Beets, Radicchio
Yellow/orange: Supports eye health, maintains lining in major organs (including respiratory and urinary tracts), supports immune function and reduces risk for heart disease. Generally rich in beta-carotene, and Vitamin A. Examples: Pumpkins, Squash, Apricots, Oranges, Mangoes, Lemons, Nectarines, Corn, Sweet Potatoes, Mango, Carrots, Peppers, Bananas, Rutabagas
White, Tan, and Brown: Variety in color is key, and in produce, colorless can still have benefits of their own! These include reducing blood pressure and cholesterol, reducing risks for various cancers, and supporting the heart. Examples: White Peaches, Brown Pears, Cauliflower, Garlic, Ginger, Jicama, Mushrooms, Onions, Parsnips, Turnips, Shallots
Green: SUCH an important group! These bad boys provide immune system and heart health support, regulate glucose levels, and are rich in Vitamins A, C, E, and iron and zinc. Other leafy greens contain bone health support with calcium and Vitamin K. Goal- shoot for 4-5 servings of dark leafy greens per week! Examples: Kale, Spinach, Lettuces, Broccoli, Cucumber, Zucchini, Celery, Green Apples, Kiwi Fruit, Green Grapes, Limes, Peas, Endive, Leeks, Chayote Squash, Watercress, Herbs, Green Beans
Purple/Blue: These dark produce items are especially righ in antioxidants. Think blueberries and acai! These contain flavonoids, important for regulating blood pressure and resveratrol, which plays a role in circulation and artery health. In addition, the antioxidants in these foods protect against certain cancers, ulcer, urinary tract infections, and support liver function. Examples: Cabbage, Plums, Blueberries, Blackberries, Olives, Eggplant, Grapes and Raisins, Purple Potatoes, Purple Carrots, Purple Asparagus, Elderberries, Purple Peppers, Black Currants, Acai
SO now that you know why, add in some more color to your every day. Adding color not only adds these awesome health benefits, but also adds flavor! Spring and summer are the perfect time to take advantage and try out some produce you haven’t before as we are in the perfect season for famer’s markets etc. So get out and enjoy!!! (Don’t forget to expose your kids to a variety of these produce items as well. Even if you hated broccoli as a child, allow your kids to try it to form their own healthy palates.)