The “Eat the Rainbow” philosophy is based on consuming an abundance and variety of nutritious plant-based foods.
These foods help us maintain the variety of nutrients our bodies need throughout the week.
Mother Nature provides us with so many nutritious and beautiful products, and eating the rainbow is a simple visual reminder that allows you to appreciate all of those powerful foods that are available to you.
By visualizing the rainbow as you eat during the week, you can include a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in your diet.
Discover some of the biggest benefits of each color for keeping track of things, as well as tips on how to start incorporating the rainbow mentality into your weekly meals.
Why it is important to eat the rainbow
We’ve heard it since we were kids: “Eat the rainbow!”, “The more color the merrier!” But what is the reason?
The colors we see in our fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods actually represent really powerful, important nutrients that are present. These are called phytonutrients!
Phytonutrients essentially help us prevent diseases and cure them. The best way to tell what phytonutrients we are getting is to use the color of the fruit or vegetable we are eating. That is, if we only ever eat red fruits or vegetables, we will only get the phytonutrients associated with the red color.
The more your plate, bowl, or entire diet resembles the rainbow, the more nutrients we get overall! It’s an easy way to check your shopping list, cart, and weekly meals to see what I’m missing.
One of the reasons we encourage you to eat more plant-based foods is because it’s easier to get more of these phytonutrients into your meals!
The benefits of each food coloring
Benefits of Red Food: Antiaging Properties and Improved Heart Health
The red foods in your diet are good sources of antioxidants. The phytonutrients present are flavonoids or carotenoids.
These two phytonutrients have been shown to prevent sun damage when consumed constantly (1). Less sun damage means fewer signs of aging!
In addition, due to their antioxidant status, they are very anti-inflammatory, which can help prevent chronic diseases and improve heart health (2).
Red foods: Peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries, red apples, beets, red lentils, kidney beans, red rice, pomegranate
Recipes to try:
Orange Food Benefits: Improved eyesight
As a child, how many times were you told to eat your carrots to improve your eyesight?
This common reference is actually based on science! Orange fruits and vegetables are filled with carotenoids, which are linked to promoting healthy eyesight.
Also because of their antioxidant content, they are known to prevent certain types of cancer and eye diseases (3).
Orange food: Carrots, orange peppers, butternut squash, pumpkin, oranges, nectarines, peaches, melon, mango, papaya
Recipes to try:
Benefits of Yellow Food: Cancer Prevention, Antimicrobial and Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Turmeric has had its time in the light for a number of years, do you ever wonder why? Curcuminoids are to be thanked for that!
They are the phytonutrients that are responsible for the strong light yellow color of turmeric as well as all other yellow fruits and vegetables.
Because of their cancer-fighting, microbial, and inflammatory properties, these yellow foods have been shown to help cure people with Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and even diabetes (4).
Yellow foods: Banana, yellow peppers, summer squash, delicata squash, yellow apples (e.g. delicious golden), lemon, pineapple, corn, turmeric
Recipes to try:
Green Food Benefits: Digestive Support and Disease Prevention
When you eat lots of greens, your fiber intake increases, which aids your daily digestion. In addition, they can also help reduce the chance that you will develop many disease conditions.
Again, there are plenty of antioxidants that help ward off disease or prevent disease.
Keep your greens intake up to keep your cholesterol levels down as well as the chances of getting sick!
Green foods: Leafy vegetables, green peppers, broccoli, zucchini, green beans, Brussels sprouts, kale, asparagus, green apples, cucumbers
Recipes to try:
Blue and Purple Food Benefits: Improved Heart Health and Cancer Prevention
The blue and purple colors you see in an abundance of plant-based foods are likely due to the presence of flavonoids.
These have been studied over the years in the context of coronary heart disease prevention as well as anti-cancer activity.
By adding more blue and purple foods to your diet, you can help improve your heart health and reduce your risk of developing certain types of cancer.
Blue and purple foods: Blueberries, grapes, blackberries, red cabbage, purple carrots, eggplant, purple potatoes, figs, plums, purple cauliflower, red lettuce, purple peppers, red kale, raisins, purple cabbage
Recipes to try:
White and Brown Food Benefits: Strengthen Bones and Reduce Menopausal Symptoms
The phytonutrients lignan are found in many brown / white foods. Lignans have been shown to help reduce the chances of developing osteoporosis over time.
Not only that, but their antioxidant properties have shown that they can also help reduce menopausal symptoms! (5)
Brown and white foods: Ground flax, lentils, jicama, ginger, garlic, onions, chickpeas, legumes, nuts, seeds
Recipes to try:
5 tips to eat the rainbow during the week
Most of us share foods and meals that we switch during our weeks and months, so adding variety can be a daunting task. However, it’s a lot easier than you might think.
Here are some simple strategies to add more variety without getting overwhelmed.
1. Have your favorites ready
If you go through the list of foods for each color, you can probably pick a few favorites from each category. Perhaps you already have these on hand every week, or you find that you don’t usually buy your favorite blue and purple foods on a regular basis.
Identify a few favorites for each color that you can have on hand in the freezer, pantry and refrigerator so you can easily imagine, “What color am I missing today and which one can I add to my plate?”
2. Add variety to your weekly grocery list
Once you have some of your favorites in stock, you can apply a number of varieties to your grocery store week after week. When you eat the rainbow, you want to remember that both the different colors and the ingredients in each color are varied!
For example, if you usually use spinach as a salad base, you can choose a different green than the week before, e.g. B. rocket, kale or watercress (or a mixture of several!).
Or if you usually add frozen broccoli or beans to your dinner, you might consider using artichokes or green peppers to switch them over.
You can do the same with anything you buy.
If these are completely uncomfortable for you, don’t force them. But if you just get in the habit of buying the same staples and enjoy other options as well, try this tip!
3. Use products that are available in more than one color
Lots of fruits and vegetables come in different colors – think red, green and yellow peppers, orange carrots and purple carrots, red apples and green apples!
An easy switch to some of your favorites is to just buy the other color option (or better yet, buy a mix of the options)!
Here is a good example. If you love carrots and hummus as a snack, a wide variety of nutrients can be obtained by having both purple and orange carrot options, or orange for one week and purple the next week.
The great thing about this tip is that, in many cases, it won’t drastically change the flavor profile of your diet. There may be a subtle difference, but overall your favorite recipes or snacks taste similar and add variety at the same time.
4. If necessary, use the frozen foods section
Fresh fruits and vegetables are great, but don’t let their short shelf life stop you from taking advantage of their consumption!
If you find that you cannot buy certain fruits or vegetables fresh, go to the frozen food section. The nutritional composition is just as good and they last twice as long. Be sure to check out the ingredients list on the back – you just want to see the food you’re buying, nothing else.
5. Make it fun for your children to eat the rainbow too!
Colors are a great way to engage young children and make eating a little more fun. Our friend, registered nutritionist and founder of Kids Eat in Color, Jennifer Anderson, is an expert in encouraging picky toddlers and toddlers to eat more fruits and vegetables by teaching the rainbow eating for both parents and children makes fun and easy! Your Instagram is full of simple lessons!
If you enjoy eating the rainbow and having fun for the whole family, you can follow this guideline too!