Eating a “rainbow” of fruits and vegetables reduces the risk for chronic disease, by ensuring you are providing your body with all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and nutrition it needs.
The different colors are made possible different phytochemicals and can be an easy way to visually see what vitamins and minerals fruits and veggies provide. If you tend to eat the same colors all the time, you are likely missing out on certain green, red, white, purple/blue, and/or yellow/orange phytonutrients.
Still Not Convinced?
Generally, when we think of eating protein it’s not a vegetable. Did you know 1 cup of broccoli has almost 6 grams of protein?!!? In addition to being a protein source, broccoli and it’s green friends offer calcium, iron, folate, and B vitamins. Folate, a B vitamin, is important to make DNA and genetic material, especially for pregnant women’s developing babies, and warding off heart disease and depression. So let’s start there shall we?
Start by adding a serving of a nutritionally dense vegetable like kale and spinach to check that GREEN phytonutrient box. Leafy greens are generally contain omega-3 fatty acids which are important and sometimes difficult to work your diet. Vitamin K is another great reason to seek out greens.
Make it even simpler by tossing a handful of spinach in your smoothie…you won’t even taste it! I know that sounds like BS – go try it!
ORANGE/YELLOW fruits and vegetables improve your immune system and promote eye health (reduced risk of cataracts and macular degeneration) with their vitamin A and C. Try adding your “orange” colors like orange bell peppers, carrots, yellow summer squash, roasted winter squash and/or fruits like mandarin orange slices to your salads.
Foods with RED phytochemicals have a very protective antioxidant effect. They can can ward off or inhibit tumors in our bodies. Try some red peppers, tomatoes, beets, cherries, apples, watermelon, and more!
Like red fruit and vegetables, BLUE/PURPLE foods are plump with antioxidants especially anthocyanin. Berries are a powerhouse when it comes to antioxidants, helping to protect the skin, aid in cardiovascular health, and improve our memory!
• When shopping, look at your cart. If you find most of your choices are the same one or two colors, swap out a few to increase the colors — and phytonutrients — in your cart.
• 1/2 cup of chopped raw vegetables or fruit makes one serving. Less dense foods, like leafy greens, take up more space, so 1 cup chopped counts as a serving.
• Think in twos when it comes to vegetable/fruit servings. Try to eat two servings in the morning, two in the afternoon, and two at night.
• We have a tremendous amount of access to fresh vegetables this time of year, but keep in mind that frozen vegetables are picked and frozen quickly, thus retaining virtually the same nutrient density as fresh – even though the flavor may be slightly affected.