Why eat a Rainbow?*

If you eat foods covering the entire color spectrum, you are providing your body with the essential nutrients that it needs. Think of eating the rainbow as the most natural and most effective multivitamin!

What are the colors of the rainbow?

Vegetables and fruits come in a wonderful array of colors that cover the spectrum of the rainbow. Research has shown that eating plant-based foods from across the color spectrum offer particular health benefits. Plant-based foods contain phytonutrients, which are bioactive plant-derived compounds that benefit your body in particular ways. Go to www.eatarainbow.org for creative ways to eat a rainbow each week!

Red- Very heart healthy and gives strength and support to our joints!

Red foods are bursting with cancer-fighting antioxidant lycopene and have a very protective antioxidant effect. Red apples are an excellent source of antioxidant quercetin, a powerful destroyer of cell-damaging free radicals that can cause premature aging, heart disease and cancer. Radishes, cherries, red cabbage, strawberries, cranberries and red grapes contain anthocyanin, another cancer fighting antioxidant that can also aid blood pressure, improve circulation, lower inflammation and boost the immune system.

Orange- A great source of Vitamin C and helps to keep our eyes healthy!

Orange and yellow foods are jam-packed with the antioxidant beta-carotene and immunity-boosting vitamin C. Beta-carotene is found in highly pigmented (red, orange, yellow) vegetables and gets converted in vitamin A, which keeps skin healthy, bolsters immune function and reduces the risk of eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Orange fruits and vegetables are incredibly beneficial to your health; try to eat at least one serving each day!

Yellow- Good for our skin and helps our digestive system work effectively!

Green- Helps our entire body and strengthens our immune system.

Greens have lots of antioxidant lutein, which protects the eyes and can reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Greens provide generous amounts of vital vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, B vitamins and folate, one of the most important B vitamins for women of childbearing age. Greens can also help ward off heart disease and depression. Greens get their color from chlorophyll, which plays an important role in stimulating the growth of new tissue and inhibiting the growth of bacteria.

Purple- Excellent for our brains! Helps us with our memory and keeps cancers away!

Blue and purple foods are abundantly filled with antioxidants, especially anthocyanin, which helps protect the skin from sun damage, reduces the risk of stroke, improves short-term memory and discourages the development of plaque and LDL cholesterol damage in the cardiovascular system. Purple grapes are the best natural source of resveratrol, a natural plant compound that battles age-related disease.

When to eat a Rainbow

Eating well is not about what you eat each day; it’s about what you eat over time. If you eat foods from all the different color groups over the course of a week, or even two, you will be providing your body with many of the nutrients that it needs for optimal health. Choose different colored fruits and vegetables for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If your plate is colorful when filled with food, you are on the right track!

*Portions of this article excerpted from: www.edibleschoolgardens.org