Eat a Rainbow

One of my favorite concepts of healthy eating is the idea of variety. Perhaps this is because I love food, and I love eating all different kinds of foods. One of the most important things we can do to improve our nutritional health is to have variety in our eating. This means rather than sticking to the same 10 or 15 foods each day, we should aim to branch out and try different varieties. The more varied our meal plans, the more vitamins, minerals and benefits we receive from our food. This is particularly important when it comes to fruits and vegetables.

During one of my recent nutrition workshops at The Resort, I discussed the benefits of eating a rainbow in regards to fruits and vegetables. Many guests were interested in this topic, so I thought I would provide some additional information and resources for those of you interested. Last year this blog post was written, and it has a lot of great information about the benefits of the different color pigments found in fruits and vegetables.
In general, fruits and vegetables can be divided into 5 different color groups, each group providing specific health benefits. Below is a summary of the groups and their respective benefits:
1) Red Fruits and Vegetables:
  • Reduce the risk of cancers, particularly prostate cancer
  • Protect our cells from damage
  • Help prevent heart and lung disease
  • Maintain urinary tract health
2) Orange/Yellow Fruits and Vegetables:
  • Maintain mucus membranes
  • Healthy eyes
  • Help prevent heart disease
  • Improve immune system function
3) Green Fruits and Vegetables:
  • Healthy eyes
  • Help maintain strong bones and teeth
  • Protect against cancer
4) Blue/Purple Fruits and Vegetables:
  • Protect cells from damage
  • Reduce risk of some cancers
  • Help prevent stroke and heart disease
  • Improve memory function
  • Promote healthy aging
  • Maintain urinary tract health
5) White Fruits and Vegetables:
  • Help lower blood cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Reduce risk of stomach cancer
  • Reduce risk of heart disease
  • Increase our ability to fight sickness/infection
I recently found this website, which provides some great information about this topic as well as ways to increase fruit and vegetable consumption. I also found this article, which is a good reminder about the importance of eating a rainbow.
In addition to the phytochemicals found in color pigments, fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are essential for good health. Summer is a great time to be eating fresh fruits and vegetables. I really enjoyed Emily’s blog post from last year entitled, ‘Summer Produce.’ It’s a good reminder of all the wonderful and tasty fruits and vegetables that are in season this time of year.
So during your next trip to the grocery store or farmer’s market, try a fruit or vegetable you’ve never tasted before. Increase your variety and eat a rainbow for better health.
Rachel Cope MPH, RC, CD