Fuel Your Body With The Rainbow
If eating healthier made your 2019 resolution list, try making a few small adjustments such as eating a fruit or vegetable at every meal and fueling your body with a rainbow of foods. Along with helping the environment and animals, moving to a more plant-based diet has numerous health benefits. Hippocrates coined the phrase “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Fruits and vegetables have a variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals that nourish the body and fight disease, plus they are low in calories and high in fiber. Organic and fresh is always best, but frozen and canned fruits and vegetables still have nutritional value. They are better than chips, cookies and other processed snacks. Read on to see how the various colors of rainbow foods can help heal your body, prevent disease, maintain weight, and achieve optimal health.
Yellow/Orange = Carotenoids
Looking for a natural anti-aging solution and immune support? Make sure to get a daily dose of orange and yellow foods to support healthy skin and eyes and fight the damaging effects of sun and pollution. They are rich in Vitamin C and carotenoids, including beta carotene, which converts to vitamin A in the body. Fill up to protect against heart disease and cancer, promote healthy joints/tissues, lower cholesterol, and fight off illness.
- Sweet potatoes
- Winter squash (butternut, kabocha, acorn)
- Orange and yellow peppers
Red = Phytochemicals
These cancer-fighting foods are high in lycopene, anthocyanins and ellagic acid. Some of the many benefits include reducing the risk of diabetes, macular degeneration, and protect against certain cancers. Red fruits and vegetables also lower blood pressure, improve skin quality and cell renewal, and support a healthy heart. Try adding more of these to your diet.
- Red peppers
- Red onions
Green = Antioxidants
Chlorophyll makes plants green. It’s also a powerful antioxidant that promotes wellbeing and detoxification. Green fruits and vegetables are also rich in lutein, folate, isothiocyanates, isoflavones, and vitamin K. Filling your plate with a variety of greenery can improve digestion, detoxify the body, aid tissue healing, and restore energy and vitality. These foods also support good eyesight, mood, insomnia, and overall immunity.
- Romaine lettuce
- Collard greens
- Brussels sprouts
- Green grapes and apples
- Spinach and swiss chard
- Arugula and kale
- Green beans
- Kiwi fruit
Blue/purple = Resveratrol
These often-overlooked fruits and vegetables are high in phytonutrients including anthocyanins and resveratrol, which have been studied extensively for their anti-cancer and anti-aging properties.
Increasing your intake of blue and purple foods offer an array of health benefits, such as reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s, fights inflammation and cancer, and protects against cellular damage. They naturally fight aging, memory loss, and keep blood vessels and the urinary system healthy.
- Red (purple) grapes
- Red (purple) cabbage
White = Overall health
Do you love cauliflower, garlic, mushrooms, potatoes, and onions? You’re in luck! Rich in cancer-fighting compounds such as sulforaphane, allicin, quercetin, and phytonutrients, white and brown vegetables have a range of health benefits and should be included in a healthy diet. They help keep bones strong, support a strong immune system, and protect against certain cancers. Also, heart-healthy, they lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation, prevent ulcers, support colon health, and balance hormones.
- Daikon radish
Eat the Rainbow
- Try a fruit smoothie or oatmeal with berries for breakfast,
- Make a large salad and serve as a healthy side for a few days
- Experiment with different veggie wraps or homemade vegetable soup
- Make vegetables the main dish in a stir fry with rice
- Top a baked potato or fill a pepper with veggies
By eating the rainbow, or an array of whole, colorful foods, you provide your body with essential vitamins and minerals it needs to regulate digestion, reduce inflammation and improve energy. Not to mention, it can cut down on buying expensive and unnecessary supplements.
Article Reviewed by Holly Lookabaugh-Deur, PT, DSc, GCS, CEEAA
Holly Lookabaugh-Deur, PT, DSc, GCS, CEEAA is a practicing physical therapist and a partner and Director of Clinical Services at Ivy Rehab Network. Deur is board certified as a geriatric clinical specialist and certified exercise expert for aging adults with more than 35 years of clinical experience. She is certified as an aquatic and oncology rehabilitation specialist and serves as adjunct faculty at Central Michigan University and Grand Valley State University.