Eating the Rainbow

by Jane Harrison, RD, from MyOptumHealth.com

Ever heard of the “rainbow diet?” It’s not an actual diet — it refers to choosing fruits and veggies of every color in the rainbow.

Eating the full rainbow of foods regularly helps give your body the nutrients it needs. In addition to fiber, vitamins and minerals, naturally colored foods contain what are known as phytochemicals. These powerful plant substances are the disease-fighting materials that also give fruits and veggies their array of colors.

Research has shown that eating a variety of these plant substances may work together to:

  • Strengthen your immune system
  • Lower your risk for certain cancers and chronic diseases
  • Help ward off type 2 diabetes
  • Reduce high blood pressure
  • Prevent some eye diseases
  • Maintain urinary tract health
  • Maintain heart health
  • Improve memory
  • Help build strong bones and teeth

Your daily quota

The goal: Fill half your plate with colorful fruits and veggies at each meal. The number of cups of fruit and veggies you’ll need every day depends on your age, gender, calorie needs and activity level.

Making fruit and veggies the focal point during a meal will help you meet your daily quota!  Check out MyPlate.gov for more ideas about how to add fruits and veggies into your meals.

A rainbow of choices
Ready to shop the rainbow? The next time you are at the supermarket or local farm stand, try to choose fruits and vegetables from each of these categories:

  • Red: Red apples, cranberries, red grapes, pomegranates, raspberries, strawberries, watermelon, pink or red grapefruit, tomatoes, radishes, radicchio, red peppers, red onions
  • Blue/purple: Raisins, blackberries, blueberries, plums, purple grapes, eggplant, purple cabbage, purple figs
  • White: Bananas, white nectarines, white peaches, garlic, cauliflower, mushrooms, onions, potatoes
  • Green: Green apples, green grapes, kiwi fruit, honeydew melon, kiwi, avocado, broccoli, spinach, okra, artichoke, zucchini, lettuce, celery, asparagus
  • Yellow/orange: Yellow apples, apricots, cantaloupe, oranges, peaches, nectarines, mangoes, grapefruit, pineapple, yellow peppers, pumpkin, sweet corn, yellow tomatoes, lemons, sweet potatoes

Looking for a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? For some, the prize may be measured in pounds. Since fruits and vegetables tend to be filling and low in calories, they can also be a good way to help you reduce or manage your weight.

Sources:

U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary guidelines for Americans 2010. Accessed: 9/25/12.

This article provided by United Healthcare, a sponsor of the 2012 Texas Conference for Women.