This article was contributed by Debbie M., MS, RD
Though you can’t literally eat a rainbow, you can consume a rainbow of colors in your produce. Because beneficial vitamins and phytochemicals are found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, to get enough of them in your diet means consuming a spectrum of produce. Certain colors are equated with certain nutrients*, too, such as orange and the antioxidant beta-carotene. Foods sharing the same color have specific properties that target specific diseases. Cancer experts recommend eating from each of the following rainbow groups daily as a measure of prevention:
Red: adzuki bean, cherry, cranberry, goji berry, guava, kidney bean, pomegranate, radish, raspberry, red apple, red bell pepper, red grape, red potato, rhubarb, strawberry, Swiss chard, tomato, watermelon
Orange: apricot, butternut squash, cantaloupe, carrot, mango, nectarine, orange, papaya, peach, persimmon, pumpkin, sweet potato, tangerine, yam
Yellow: chickpea (garbanzo bean), corn, grapefruit, lemon, pineapple, pear, yellow bell pepper, yellow onion, yellow squash, yellow tomato
White: banana, bean sprouts, cauliflower, daikon radish, garlic, jicama, lychee fruit, mushroom, onion, parsnip, pine nuts, turnip, water chesnut
Green: artichoke, asparagus, avocado, bok choy, broccoli, Brussel sprout, cabbage, celery, chive, collard greens, cucumber, green apple, green bean, green bell pepper, green grape, green onion, honeydew melon, kale, kiwi, lentils, lettuce, lime, mustard greens, pear, peas, pistachio nut, seaweed (nori), soy bean (makimame/edemame), spinach, sugar snap pea, zucchini
Purple: beet, blackberry, black or purple grape, blueberry, eggplant, fig, plum/prune, raisins, red cabbage, rutabaga
Eating a generous amount of fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet may reduce risk of chronic diseases including stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure. Note: Processing tends to deplete food of its nutrients and strips color, so choose fresh. Why not get the most out of your produce by consuming a colorful array of nutrients? It’s attractive on your plate and beneficial for your body, too!
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* A color chart naming these nutrients is shown at http://www.pcrm.org/good-medicine/2005/summer/tips-from-the-cancer-project-the-nutrition-rainbow