Remembering to “eat the rainbow” (and we aren't talking about Skittles) is a great and simple way to ensure you’re getting a variety of nutrients into your diet.
According to CDC surveys, less than 10% of American adults eat enough fruits and veggies. With slight variations based on gender and age, the general recommendation is 1½ - 2 cups of fruit and 2 - 3 cups of vegetables per day. Studies show that five is the magic number for daily servings: two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables.
“5 a Day” diets (diets with five servings of fruits and vegetables) decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent certain cancers, lower blood pressure, boost digestive health, and help maintain healthy blood sugars. In fact, eating “5 a day” can actually increase your lifespan. A recent Harvard study revealed that individuals who consistently ate five servings per day lived notably longer than individuals who consumed just two servings per day. (Interestingly, the research indicated that eating more than five a day did not offer increased benefits.)
That doesn’t mean just munching on baby carrots and apple slices to get your servings in. You’ll get even more valuable micronutrients (like vitamins, minerals, and essential plant compounds) if you eat a VARIETY of fruits and veggies. Simply put, eating the rainbow means eating various fruits and vegetables of different colors every day to increase your intake of various nutrients.
Most colorful fruits and veggies have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, but each color has different beneficial aspects for your health. For example, blue and purple foods may help improve brain function, and red foods may help lower your risk of heart disease and certain cancers.
Foods in the Rainbow
Red/Pink: beets, cherries, cranberries, pink grapefruit, pomegranates, radicchio, radishes, raspberries, red apples, red grapes, red peppers, red potatoes, rhubarb, tomatoes, watermelon.
Orange/Yellow: squash, apricots, cantaloupe, carrot, corn, grapefruit, lemons, mangoes, nectarines, oranges & tangerines, orange & yellow peppers, papaya, peaches, pineapple, pumpkin, sweet potatoes.
Green: artichokes, asparagus, avocados, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, celery, greens (cabbage, lettuce, spinach, kale, etc.), cucumber, green beans, green grapes, green onions, green peppers, kiwi, leeks, limes, okra, pears, peas, watercress, zucchini.
White: bananas, cauliflower, garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, mushrooms, onion, potatoes, parsnips, shallots.
Blue/Purple: blackberries, blueberries, currants, dates, eggplant, purple grapes, plums, prunes, purple figs, raisins.
5 Easy Ways to Incoporate the Rainbow
You do NOT have to overhaul your entire diet to make this happen, so here are a few tips to get you started:
- Add a veggie/fruit to your regular everyday snacks.
- Stir spinach or other leafy greens into a sauce.
- Have two sides of veggies with your dinner instead of one.
- Have some mixed berries for dessert.
- Experiment with new veggies/fruits and make it fun!
Fruits and vegetables of different colors offer various health benefits. By ensuring you’re eating a few colored fruits or vegetables at each meal, you’re setting yourself up for good health.
About the Author: Brittinie Wick is an Air Force Veteran turned Health and Fitness Coach who founded Brittinie Wick Fitness. Her mission is to empower all women, through fitness and nutrition, to gain confidence, lose weight, and celebrate the feeling of strong and sexy. Grab her “Healthy at Every Age” guide! This ebook is aimed at people just like you, who want to live their BEST, MOST ACTIVE life, starting TODAY and continuing deep into the future!