We have come a long way since being reluctantly coaxed to eat broccoli as children. We've developed palates that appreciate a succulent mango or a peppery radish, and we understand that these foods are our primary source of vitamins and minerals, and ultimately, energy. For those who are extremely short on time or travel a lot, we recommend supplementing with a good Greens powder. The phrase “eating the rainbow” refers to consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables of different colors. But when you look at your diet, are you getting enough variety?
According to MyPlate, women between the ages of 31 and 50 should eat 1½ cups of fruit per day and 2½ cups of vegetables per day. On a basic level, this is easy to attain. We can simply blend an extra cup of blueberries and a big handful of spinach in our morning Daily Shake and call it a day. But if we look at what each fruit and vegetable have to offer from a color standpoint, we’d be missing out on some pretty important vitamins and minerals by just adding more of the same.
Eating a wide variety can help protect us from ailments and illnesses and keep us healthy in the long term. For example, the lycopene that makes watermelon appear red may also help prevent prostate and breast cancers. Similarly, the beta-carotene that gives carrots and sweet potatoes their orange hue helps keep our bones strong and our eyes healthy while boosting our immune systems.
Knowing how each color helps you look and feel your best is a great way to stay motivated to fill your plate with a variety of fruits and vegetables every day. Here’s a look at how eating from the rainbow is the best way to nourish our bodies with all of the nutrients we need:
Red fruits and vegetables, including beets, pomegranates, and tomatoes, are rich in antioxidants, which protect the body from free radicals. Beets get their color from benatin, a phytochemical that’s thought to boost our immune systems. The juicy red jewels in a pomegranate are packed polyphenols, which protect the body from oxidative stress as well as cancers, coronary heart disease, and inflammation. On your Clean Program cleanse, you can enjoy dried chile peppers in small amounts, which stimulate brain chemicals that curb hunger, and off the program you can add in tomatoes, which like watermelon, contain the cancer-fighting antioxidant lycopene.
ORANGE YOU GLAD YOU ATE YOUR VEGGIES
Mangoes, sweet potatoes, and carrots all get their orange huge from beta-carotene, a carotenoid that supports healthy hair, skin, and eyesight. The inner flesh of mangoes is a brilliant yellowish orange, bursting with over 20 vitamins and minerals that help decrease our risk of colon cancer, improve our digestion, and strengthen our bones. In addition to preventing macular degeneration, the beta-carotene in sweet potatoes and carrots gives our skin a healthy glow by reducing damage caused by UV light, pollution, and other environmental hazards. Plus, some studies suggest that eating as little as one carrot a day may reduce wrinkles and other signs of aging.
IT WAS ALL YELLOW
Yellow foods, including lemons and golden beets, are chock-full of beta-carotene, flavonoids, vitamin C, and zeaxanthin, all of which are important for keeping us healthy from our eyes to our internal organs. Lemons are a terrific digestive aid and have the unique ability to detoxify the body. We love drinking warm lemon water every morning to flush waste and toxins leftover from the digestive process. Similarly, golden beets are excellent at cleansing the body, specifically the kidneys.
IT'S EASY BEING GREEN
Most green foods, like kale, spinach, and broccoli, are considered superfoods because they’re so rich in antioxidants like carotenoids and flavonoids. These lush vegetables get their green pigment from chlorophyll, a powerful digestive aid that also assists with hormonal balance and detoxification. In addition to vitamins A, K, C, iron, and calcium, leafy greens are an excellent source of folate, which can reduce our risk of cardiovascular disease and memory loss. As if green foods weren’t impressive enough, they also contain phytonutrients that boost our immune systems and help protect us against cellular damage.
GET THE BLUES
Researchers believe that anthocyanins, the compounds responsible for giving blue and purple foods their deep, rich color, reduce our risk for high blood pressure and cholesterol and harness the same UTI-fighting power as cranberries. It’s also proven that the darker the food, the higher concentration of antioxidants. Thus, blue and purple foods like blackberries, figs, and purple cauliflower have amazing healing properties – and grains aren’t excluded. Black rice has been found to reduce liver damage incurred by excessive alcohol intake.
Eating the rainbow has numerous benefits to our health and wellbeing. From giving our skin a healthy and radiant glow, to protecting us from cancer, to detoxifying the liver, filling your plate with a variety of beautiful fruits and vegetables is the best way to ensure you’re getting the full spectrum of nutrients you need to thrive.
Written by Kate Kasbee
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