Some of the best diet advice you can follow is to eat the rainbow. Simply put, eating the rainbow refers to the consumption of a variety of fruits and vegetables. Beyond the aesthetics of my vibrantly plated salad bowls on my Instagram feed, there's intention behind the abundance of colorful fruits and vegetables I choose to eat and share. There's a little rule I have in my kitchen, which is there must be three or more colors on each plate of food.
Each color provides various health benefits and no one color is superior to another. The beautiful colors you see in fruits and vegetables are from antioxidant phytonutrients called carotenoids and flavonoids, which are responsible for their distinctive tastes and aromas. Phytonutrients strengthen a plant’s immune system by protecting them from environmental threats, disease and harsh sun exposure. These same phytonutrients in plants protect the human body from chronic diseases.
Eating specific fruits and vegetables based on their colors has been shown to correlate to a lower risk of disease within different areas of the body. For example, a recent study found that consuming white fruits and vegetables was associated with a reduced stroke incidence. For every 25g increase in white fruit and vegetables per day, there was a 9% risk reduction for strokes.
Now, let’s explore the benefits of each color.
Foods that are red are thought to reduce cancer risk, boost your immune system, and enhance brain and heart health. This is because they contain compounds like anthocyanidins and lycopene.
Try to incorporate more apples, beets, red bell peppers, cranberries, cherries, grapes, plums, pomegranates, raspberries, strawberries, and tomatoes into your diet.
Foods that are orange help to boost your immune system and optimize eye and skin health. This is because they contain compounds like beta-carotene and curcuminoids.
Try to consume foods like apricots, orange bell peppers, carrots, mangos, oranges, pumpkin, sweet potato, and turmeric.
Foods that are yellow are anti-inflammatory and promote eye, skin, brain and heart health. This is because they contain compounds like lutein and zeaxanthin.
Shop for foods like golden apples, pears, bananas, yellow bell peppers, lemons, pineapple, and summer squash.
Green foods are anti-inflammatory, support your liver, and are vital for brain and heart health. This is because they contain compounds like chlorophyll and isoflavones.
Try incorporating foods like asparagus, avocados, green bell peppers, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cucumbers, edamame, leafy greens, limes, and zucchini into your diet.
Blue and Purple
Foods that are blue and purple are anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and are good for the brain! This is because they contain compounds like anthocyanidins and resveratrol.
Incorporate foods like blueberries, blackberries, cabbage, purple cauliflower, eggplant, grapes, plums, and prunes into your daily diet.
Brown and White
When it comes to phytonutrients, the rule of thumb is the darker the plant food, the more nutrient dense it is. However, white and tan plant foods are the exception! These plants have amazing anti-inflammatory properties, plus they support a healthy liver and optimize hormone health. This is because they contain compounds like allicin and tannins.
Tip: Try to consume the colorful skins of fruits and vegetables as these often contain the richest sources of phytonutrients. In other words, avoid peeling your fruits and vegetables as you’re throwing away the most concentrated source of nutrients.
Save this list for your next market run.