Eating health is not only about cutting out the bad foods. It’s also about eating more of the good ones. The best way to give your body all the nutrients it needs is to eat the rainbow, and I don’t mean a rainbow of Skittles! The idea is to get away from all the processed junk out there and eat REAL food. I mean let’s think about it. Can you name a unhealthy fruit or vegetable? It’s alright, I’ll wait…The answer is NO! Vegetables and fruit are always better for you than the processed nonsense that are sadly considered food now a days.
In addition to the fiber, vitamins and minerals all fruit and vegetables contain phytochemicals. These phytochemicals are what give fruits and vegetables there color and sometimes aroma. Each phytochemical has it’s own nutritional benefits including the most popular antioxidants. You hear the word antioxidants all the time, but do you know what they actually do? Here is a small list of the “colors of the rainbow” foods and why you should be eating them.
Red – All red fruits and vegetables have a phytochemical called Lycopene. Lycopene has been discovered to have cancer prevention properties and is extremely beneficial for your cardiovascular system. It also slows the aging process by protecting your skin from UV rays. Here are a few examples of some red fruits and vegetables: Tomatoes, Red Bell Peppers, Strawberries, Cranberries, and Raspberries.
Orange – All orange fruits and vegetables have a variety of phytochemicals called carotene. Everyone has heard that carrots are good for your eye sight, but they do a lot more for you than you realize. Carotene helps with the maintenance of all the cells in your body. It also helps regulate and boost your immune system. Here are a few orange fruits and vegetables to include in your next meal: Oranges, Sweet Potatoes, Peaches, Carrots, and Orange Bell Peppers.
Yellow – Yellow fruits and vegetables are closely related to the orange fruits and vegetables listed above, therefor they share similar benefits. On top of the benefits they share with their orange counterparts, they are extremely helpful for inflammation. This means that they help when you are recovering from any injury or have any inflammation causing condition like arthritis. They include Yellow Bell Peppers, Lemons, Bananas, and Corn.
Green – Green fruits and vegetables tend to be what most people think of when eating healthy. Do you remember your mother telling you to “eat your greens”? Well like most situations, we should listen to our mothers and this is no exception. Green fruits and vegetables have most of the phytochemicals mentioned above including Indoles and Lutein. All these phytochemicals are said to help prevent cancer and cataracts. Green vegetables are the power houses of the vegetable world. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and romaine lettuce are bursting with vitamins and most importantly fiber. These vegetables are the key to feeling full on minimal calories. Here are a few green fruits and vegetables you may be missing in your diet: Brussel Sprouts, Kale, Spinach, Broccoli, Asparagus, and Zucchini.
Blue/Purple – Blue and purple fruits and vegetables get there unique color from a group of antioxidants called flavonoids. These favornoids are essential for our brain power and memory, which all of us need with our busy schedules. Tufts Medical Center has said that these phytochemcials help our brains fire messages at a faster rate. This is a whole new level of “smart eating”. To make sure you are getting enough brain power through the day, think about adding these fruits and vegetables to your diet. These include Eggplant, Blueberries, Blackberries, Beets and Plums.
Not only will all of these fruits and vegetables give you the nutrients your body needs, they also will help you in the battle of the bulge. Most of these vegetables and fruits contain fiber and are composed of primarily water. This means they will fill you up faster and for fewer calories. The USDA now recommends that half of every meal you consume should be fruits and vegetables. So think about this when you are planning your next meal. A good way to think of it is try to make your plate “pretty” and fill it with as many vibrant colors as possible. Want to get your kids to eat healthier? Tell your kids they can get a “pot of gold” when they eat all the colors of the rainbow! You can use small chocolate candies covered in gold wrappers as there pot of gold treat. If you make the treat dark chocolate, it’s a win win for everyone. Dark Chocolate has antioxidants in it too! So get out there and get creative with your food! Try new things, and make eating healthy fun!