Ahhh, the smells and sights of summer- sunshine, an abundance of flowers, long days, beautiful nights, and all the delicious and incredibly nutritious fruits and vegetables that come alive! Now, you gotta admit- who doesn’t love this season of summertime?! The nutritious values found in what’s seasonal are ever so important to your health. For instance- you have heard “eat your greens!” Let’s get a quick reminder of just how important it is to ‘eat the rainbow’ to help you live a nutritious life! You probably know that you should eat colorful fruits and vegetables, but you may wonder why it’s so important and if doing so truly benefits your health.
To eat the rainbow, be sure to eat a variety of different-colored fruits and vegetables throughout your day. Most colorful fruits and veggies have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that may benefit different aspects of your health. Next time you are shopping at your local farm stand or farmers market, look for these nutritious colorful foods!
Health Benefits Found in the Rainbow
RED- anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, may help lower risk of heart disease and certain cancers, may help reduce sun-related skin damage.
Fruits and veggies-tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, watermelon, pink guava, grapefruit
ORANGE & YELLOW – anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, supports eye heath, may help lower risk of heart disease and cancer
Fruits and veggies -carrots, sweet potatoes, yellow peppers, bananas, pineapple, tangerines, pumpkin, winter squash, corn
GREEN- anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, may help lower risk of heart disease and cancer
Fruits and veggies-spinach, kale, broccoli, avocados, asparagus, green cabbage, Brussels sprouts, green herbs
BLUE & PURPLE- anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, may help improve brain function, may help lower risk of heart disease and neurological disorders, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers
Fruits and veggies-blueberries, blackberries, Concord grapes, red/purple cabbage, eggplant, plums, elderberries
DARK RED- anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, may support athletic performance through increased oxygen uptake, may help lower risk of blood pressure and heart disease and certain cancers
Fruits and veggies-beets, prickly pears
WHITE & BROWN- anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, may help lower risk of heart disease, colon cancer, and other cancers
Fruits and veggies-cauliflower, garlic, leeks, onions, mushrooms, daikon radish, parsnips, white potatoes
The great thing about eating the rainbow is it’s easy to implement.
To do this, try to incorporate two to three different-colored fruits or vegetables at every meal and at least one at every snack. While you don’t have to eat every single color every day, try to get them into your diet a few times per week. Here are some ideas:
- an omelet with spinach, mushrooms, and orange bell peppers
- a smoothie with mango, banana, and dragon fruit
- a Greek yogurt bowl with blueberries, kiwi, and strawberries
- a breakfast egg sandwich with tomato, leafy greens, and avocado
Lunch or dinner
- a mixed salad with green cabbage, lettuce, apple, shredded carrots, red pepper, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes paired with a protein source (e.g., kidney beans, chickpeas, grilled chicken, salmon)
- chicken with roasted sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and garlic
- homemade soup with canned tomatoes, onion, garlic, chopped carrots, white potatoes or parsnip, and kale
- a goat cheese salad with pickled beets, arugula, avocado, and pecans
- spaghetti with tomato sauce, mushrooms, and zucchini
- an apple with peanut butter
- red pepper slices with hummus
- grapes and cheese
- a green smoothie or juice
- a banana
- blueberries and yogurt
- broccoli, carrots, and dip
- dried mango slices
- 4–5 longan or lychee fruit
- edamame pods
- celery and melted cheese
The opportunities to include fruits and vegetables into your diet are endless. If you live in an area without fresh produce year-round, try purchasing frozen fruits and vegetables for some meals. They’re equally nutritious, accessible, and affordable! Happy eating the rainbow!