Have you ever looked at your plate and thought it looked boring because there was a lack of color? It is so easy to stick to what you know and choose convenience foods or the same foods every time you go to the store. This week’s challenge is to help us get out of a rut and add variety to our diets by eating the rainbow. Having a diet rich in fruits and vegetables of different colors provides benefits important to your overall health, including lowering the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and stroke.
Produce that is red contains antioxidants called lycopene and anthocyanins, which are antioxidants. These nutrients in foods may do everything from fight heart disease and prostate cancer to decrease the risk for stroke and macular degeneration.
This group includes: tomatoes, beets, red berries, apples, cherries, cranberries, red grapes, peppers, radishes, watermelon, red cabbage, red onion, kidney and red beans.
Green vegetables are rich in phytochemicals, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, E, K and many B vitamins. Some of these nutrients help protect your eyes, help digestion and also have anti-cancer properties.
This includes: asparagus, avocados, green beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, cucumbers, lettuce, kiwi and limes, kale, spinach, leafy greens(turnip, collard, mustard), romaine lettuce, green peas, honeydew melon, bok choy, and arugala.
Yellow and Orange
These fruits and vegetables contain beta-carotene which turns into Vitamin A to help your vision. Yellow and Orange also have Vitamin C and E, both are antioxidants and boost your immunity. And don’t forget about the folate and bioflavonoids. Nutrients found in yellow and orange fruits and vegetables can build healthy bones, and reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.
Beta-carotene is found in carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, butternut squash, cantaloupe, mangos, apricots, peaches, oranges, and tangerines. Bioflavonoids are found in oranges, grapefruit, lemons, clementines, peaches, papaya, apricots, nectarines, pineapple, yellow pepper, and yellow raisins.
Blues and Purples
More anthocyanins! These are flavoniods that protect cells from damage and may help reduce the risk of cancer, stroke and heart disease. Also in this group are nutrients like vitamin C, folic acid, fiber and polyphenols. This group supports digestion. Want to reduce the risk of age-related memory loss? Try eating fruits and vegetables that are blue or purple!
This group includes: blueberries, blackberries, purple grapes, black currants, elderberries, prunes, raisins, plums, eggplant.
The phytonutrient allicin may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and boost immune system.
They include vegetables like garlic, onions, leeks, scallions, chives, cauliflower, and shallots, ginger.Indoles, sulfaforaphanes, and phytonutrients are found in cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and may inhibit cancer growth. Phytonutrient containing white fruits and vegetables include bananas, pears, cauliflower, jicama, mushrooms, parsnips, potatoes, and turnips.
The challenge: Eat at least 1 fruit or vegetable from each color group. Each day you eat 5 different colors of fruits and veggies you earn 5 points for a total of 35 points. If you eat at least 3 colors you earn 3 points. If you eat less than 3 colors you’ll earn 0 points.