Eating the Colors of the Rainbow

Rainbow of fruits
Rainbow of fruit

Written by: Grace Dickinson, Student and Blogger at Temple University.
In honor of National Nutrition Month, below are a few tips on how to include a healthful array of colors into your diet

March marks a whole month celebrated to health and nutrition, so happy NATIONAL NUTRITION MONTH everyone! This year’s theme, as chosen by the American Dietetic Association, is “Eat Right with Color,” dedicated to reminding eaters to include a colorful variety of foods on their plates each day. Let’s take a moment to break this down, showing you how you can include a rainbow of color and nutrition into your diet.

Rainbow of veggies
Rainbow of veggies

The Reds

Tomatoes, strawberries, and many of those other rosy red fruits and veggies get their color by a natural plant pigments known as “lycopene” or “anthocyanins.” Lycopene and anthocyanins both act as powerful antioxidants, which may help reduce the risk of several types of cancer.

Here are a few delicious (and colorful) reds you might want to include on your plate:
-Red cabbage
-Pink grapefruit
-Red grapes
-Red peppers

The Yellows/Oranges
Many of the fruits and veggies in this category are filled with something known as beta-carotene, a component that gets converted into vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is essential for promoting healthy eyes, and a wide range of studies have also shown beta-carotene to reduce the risk of many types of cancer. While the citrus fruits in this category, like oranges, aren’t a good source of vitamin A, they are excellent sources of vitamin C and other immune boosting vitamins.

-Sweet corn
-Sweet potatoes

The Greens

Dark, leafy greens like spinach and kale are filled with vitamins and antioxidants. Other green veggies, such as broccoli and cabbage, contain “indoles,” a chemical component which has shown to be a preventative agent against breast cancer. Lutein, another chemical component found in many green veggies, has been shown to promote eye health. Bust out your inner Popeye and try some of these green fruits and veggies:

-Green beans
-Brussels sprouts
-Honeydew melon

The Blues/Purples

The illustrious item in this category is the blueberry, filled with powerful antioxidants that have helped raise this delicious berry to its star status. Blueberries have been linked to everything from reducing the risk of cancer to improving memory function. But there are many other blue/purple fruits and veggies that are also worthy of adding to your diet. The Blues/Purples contain nutrients like lutein, zeaxanthin, resveratrol, vitamin C, fiber, flavonoids, and quercetin, serving a wide variety of functions in the body. Give some of these beauties a try:

-Purple grapes

The Whites

Despite their lack of color, many of the Whites are filled with essential vitamins and nutrients. Take for instance bananas, America’s most beloved powerhouses of potassium, an electrolyte essential for proper bodily functions. There are also items like garlic, which contain health-promoting chemicals such as allicin, shown to help lower cholesterol, blood pressure and the risk of heart disease. So don’t pass over these tasty foods. White’s a healthy color too!