We all know we should eat our fruits and veggies, but did you know that variety is important when choosing which produce to add to your plate? Many doctors and dieticians recommend “eating the rainbow,” but that’s not just for an aesthetically pleasing meal to post on Instagram. Studies show that eating produce of different colors provides a spectrum of health benefits, so make your next grocery trip a colorful one with these tips and tricks to eat the rainbow. 

Why do different colors offer different benefits?

All plants contain different pigments, also known as phytonutrients. These phytonutrients give the plants their unique colors, and each color is linked to health benefits from specific vitamins and minerals. Virtually all colorful fruits and vegetables have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and then other health benefits vary by pigment. 

According to Healthline, the exact science of phytonutrients is difficult to pin down, but population intake and disease risk studies have shown numerous benefits to regularly eating produce of different colors, with essentially no downsides. Creating a colorful plate is also likely to engage kids to eat more, aligning with the 5-1-2-0 Initiative for children to consume 5 fruits and vegetables every day. 

Red Foods

Red foods are known for reducing risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer. They may also offer skin protection or reduce sun-related skin damage and provide cell rejuvenation by removing free radicals, which can damage cells and DNA. If you’re looking for this type of health benefit, try adding to your menu strawberries, red peppers, tomatoes, cherries or watermelon. Beyond the bright red produce you often think of, dark red root vegetables like beets can also offer increased oxygen uptake and may lower risk of high blood pressure. 

Yellow and Orange Foods

You’ve probably heard about eating carrots for eye health, and this is truly supported by science! In addition to eye health, yellow and orange foods can also help with cholesterol levels for a healthy heart, may help prevent certain types of cancer and can promote healthy joints. Yellow and orange produce includes carrots, oranges, lemons, bananas, squash, pineapple and pumpkin. Just another reason to encourage your family to go to the pumpkin patch this fall, right?

Green Foods

Many green vegetables are also known for being cruciferous, which are rich in fiber and low in calories. Cruciferous foods are great for stomach protection, gut health and digestion issues. Green foods may also improve your immune system, promote healthy bones and improve eye health. Cruciferous veggies are often leafy greens, such as broccoli, cabbage, kale or brussel sprouts. Other green produce includes cucumbers, green peppers and avocado. 

Blue and Purple Foods

Darker foods in the blue and purple hues may be helpful in improving brain health, including memory and risk of neurological disorders. They may also help lower your chances of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and specific cancers. Purple and blue foods can also promote healthy blood vessels and urinary system protection. Some of these tasty purple and blue foods include blueberries, grapes, radishes, eggplant and purple cabbage. 

White and Brown Foods

You may not think of white or brown foods on the color spectrum, but including them when you eat the rainbow can have great benefits. White and brown produce can help with immune, gut and heart health, promote stomach protection and potentially lower cholesterol. If you’re looking for white and brown foods, pick up some onions, mushrooms, garlic, potatoes or cauliflower. 

If you need help with eating well, creating healthy meal plans or affording nutritious groceries, contact the Support Navigators at Healthy365. We’ll offer assistance and connect you with local resources that can help improve your overall physical wellness! Contact us today at 317-468-4231.