Eat the Rainbow

Original Image by Dean Hochman via Flickr
Original Image by Dean Hochman via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

Have you ever noticed that processed, fried and fast food often have one color in common? Brown and white.  Have you realized that fruits, veggies and whole grains have another color in common?  Actually, multiple colors–Rainbows.  They’re not just for artists  to refer to their color palette.  Sorry for the stereotype, but thinking of rainbows are a great way check and balance system

Color Examples of Food  Benefits
Red Tomato, watermelon, guava, cherries, Ruby Red grapefruit, snapper meat, red peppers
  • Lycopene, antioxidant—cuts prostate cancer risk and decreases risk of heart disease
  • Increases consumption of omega 3’s
Orange Pumpkin, sweet potato, yams, carrots, mangos, oranges
  • Beta carotene—supports immune system, powerful antioxidant, support skin health
  • Increases vitamin A consumption
Yellow-orange Orange, lemon, grapefuit, papaya, banana, peach, squash, lemons
  • Carotenoids—help defend against cancer, help body produce more white blood cells and boost immunity
  • vitamin c
  • flavonoids—inhibit tumor cell growth, detoxify harmful substances
  • increases potassium levels
Green Spinach, kale, collard, arugula
  • Folate—builds healthy cells and genetic material
  • Rich in minerals—iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin C,E,K and B
  • Variety in phytonutrients—beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin
  • Contain omega 3 fats
Green-white Broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower
  • Indoles
  • lutein—eliminate excess estrogen and carcinogen
White-green Garlic, onion, chive, aspargus
  • Allyl sulfides—destroy cancer cells, reduce cell division, support immune system
Blue Blueberries, grapes, plums, blackberries
  • Anthocyanins—destroy free radicals
  • antioxidants—help protect against cancer
  • limits damage to tendons, cartilage, ligaments and blood vessels
  • impacts urinary tract health
  • preserves vision
Red-purple Grapes, berries, plums, purple cabbage, cranberries
  • Reservatrol—may decrease estrogen production
Brown Whole grains, legumes
  • Fiber—carcinogen removal
White Mushrooms, onions, cauliflower, potatoes and garlic
  • Reduces risk of cancer by triggering liver to produce enzymes to detoxify cancer causing chemicals
  • Source of vitamin K, C, B6 and fiber
  • Betaglucans—polysaccharides that stimulate immune system to fight infection
  • Protects against heart disease
  • Antibacterial and viral effects

Using this reference, if you’re stumped what to serve with your chicken or you don’t know what you should add to your smoothie use this quick guide to check if you’ve got enough “colors” in your meal to complete a rainbow.  Not only will meals be more pleasing to the eye with a more varied plate, but the health benefits are numerous and one will be consuming more nutrients than the processed foods that usually stick to one color.

Suggestions on how to incorporate more varied colors into one’s everyday lives:

  • Add fresh fruit to breakfast cereal, oatmeal, smoothie, yogurt, etc.
  • Add cranberries, carrots, beets, etc. to salad
  • Swap white potatoes with sweet potatoes
  • Swap broccoli for cauliflower, squash and/or purple cabbage
  • Have fresh fruit on the table or counter to grab on the go



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s