A rainbow of fruits and veggies (photo © Stephanie Suchat).
In elementary school, we learned how to remember the order of the colors of the rainbow: ROYGBIV—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.
Now, nutritionists advise us to “eat the rainbow.” The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics made this year’s theme “Eat Right with Color,” to focus on improving eating habits, simply by eating a rainbow of colors.
Since March is National Nutrition Month, we share their recommendations.
So see how many of these colors you can work into daily meals. Make a game of it and get other family members to recommend their favorite foods—as long as they’re ROYGBIV.
The following suggestions recommend just one food per color, but through the power of the Internet, you can find many more.
RED: Until summer tomatoes hit the store, the bright, vibrant pomegranate has been proven to prevent a variety of chronic conditions, such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s and some cancers. If you don’t want to cut up the whole fruit (it’s easy—see how), you can get many of the same benefits from drinking pomegranate juice or eating pomegranate seeds (arils) sold in bags.
ORANGE: Bright and nutrient-loaded sweet potatoes are a delicious and filling food. Packed with beta-carotene, copper, iron, potassium, and fiber, this superfood looks great on any plate. For snacks, stock up on sweet potato chips (or make your own).
YELLOW: Bananas, a quick and easy go-to healthy snack, are a great source of potassium and electrolytes. Both of these nutrients help our bodies maintain normal nerve and muscle function, (especially good after a workout). Plus, bananas are high in fiber, satisfying, and filling.
GREEN: With a heap of cancer-fighting antioxidants, leafy kale is high in vitamins and minerals that promote heart health. Fiber-rich foods fill you up faster, which helps to keep your weight in check. More on kale, kale chips and how to make your own kale chips.
BLUE: Just a handful of blueberries or blackberries packs enough potassium and vitamin C to make it a top choice of doctors and nutritionists. These berries can lower the risk of heart disease and cancer, and help reduce inflammation which can lead to chronic diseases. EDITOR’S NOTE: Also look for concord and zinfandel grapes, flavorful blue-black cultivars that can be added to salads, eaten as a snack fruit, or drunk as juice.
INDIGO: More grapes! Red-purple varieties such as cardinal, emperor, flame seedless, and red globe are packed with healthful goodness. Grapes are rich in the phytochemical compound resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant that has been found to protect against cancers of the colon and prostate, coronary heart disease, degenerative nerve disease, Alzheimer’s, and more. They also contain anthocyanins and catechins, other strong antioxidants.
VIOLET: Go for eggplant. The Chinese pingtung long eggplant and some varieties of Japanese eggplant have a lovely violet color. Japanese eggplant (and eggplant generally) is high in fiber and minerals and low in calories. The skin contains the antioxidant nasunin, a potent phytonutrient (type of antioxidant) that protects brain cell membranes and may help fight aging and cancer.
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RAINBOW TRIVIA: It was Sir Isaac Newton who named and defined the seven colors of the rainbow.