Rainbow eating: More fruits and veggies

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From an early age, we are taught the importance of a balanced diet featuring a large share of fruits and vegetables, along with meat, grains, dairy and more. Unfortunately, our efforts to eat enough fruits and veggies each day can fall short. If only there were a handy trick to get you and your family to eat more of the good stuff.

You are in luck! By focusing on the colors of the rainbow, you can add more fruits and vegetables to your family’s nutrition.

Kacie Vavrek, MS, RD, CSSD, a dietitian at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, explains the benefits of sorting each food group by color.

“If you do not eat a variety of these plant foods, you may be missing out on important nutrients that help maintain health.”

Remember, the goal is to eat some combination of two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables each day. Fruits and vegetables, as well as other plant-based foods, contain a variety of different vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients unique to each plant food. 

Rainbow Diet:

Red fruits and vegetables:

  • Red radish
  • Red bell pepper
  • Red cherries
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries

 

What are the health benefits of these red fruits and vegetables?

Red fruits and vegetables are full of lycopene and anthocyanins phytonutrients. These nutrients may decrease inflammation, inhibit cancer cell growth, promote memory function and lower risk of some cancers.


Orange fruits and vegetables:

  • Carrot
  • Mango
  • Clementine
  • Oranges

What are the health benefits of these orange fruits and vegetables?

Orange fruits and vegetables have carotenoids phytonutrients. These nutrients help boost the immune system, decrease muscle cramps, improve brain function, maintain vision and improve heart health.

 

Yellow fruits and vegetables:

  • Yellow bell pepper
  • Yellow squash
  • Pineapple

What are the health benefits of these fruits and vegetables?

Yellow fruits and vegetables are known for lutein and zeaxanthin phytonutrients. These nutrients maintain eye health and prevent macular degeneration. They can also help boost immune function.

 


White fruits and vegetables:

  • Cauliflower
  • White mushrooms
  • Jicama

What are the health benefits of these white fruits and vegetables?

White fruits and vegetables contain anthoxanthins and allicin phytonutrients. These nutrients can lower the risk of some cancers and help maintain heart health.

 


Green fruits and vegetables:

  • Snap peas
  • Broccoli
  • Kale

What are the health benefits of these fruits and vegetables?

Green fruits and vegetables have lutein and zeaxanthin phytonutrients. These nutrients lower risk of some cancers, maintain vision, protect heart health, help boost immune system and are good for both bone and teeth health.

 


Blue / Purple fruits and vegetables:

  • Eggplant
  • Blueberries
  • Concord grapes
  • Red cabbage

What are the health benefits of these fruits and vegetables?

Blue and purple fruits are packed with resveratrol, proanthocyanidin and anthocyanidin phytonutrients. These nutrients promote healthy aging, boost immune system performance, reduce inflammation, protect against heart disease, improve memory and lower risk of some cancers.

 

What are phytonutrients?

Phytonutrients are naturally occurring chemicals in fruits and vegetables that provide the color, odor and flavor associated with each individual food, explains Vavrek. Research shows that these phytonutrients have potential to improve your overall health by stimulating the immune system, lowering risks of some cancers, reducing inflammation, reducing oxidative damage and helping regulate hormones.


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