Eat a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables for plenty of nutrients.
Colorful fruits and veggies are more than just a way to add variety to your plate. A rainbow of foods provides an assortment of powerful vitamins and nutrients that can help support healthy body systems and even work to prevent illness. Eating colorful foods also promotes weight management and is a great way to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Here are just a few benefits of including many different colors on your plate, along with some hassle-free tips for sneaking these foods into your diet:
Red foods—tomatoes, watermelon, red grapes, red peppers, and others—contain a phytochemical called lycopene, which gives them their red color. Research suggests that lycopene may help protect against cancer, reduce inflammation, and fight free radicals in the body. A team of researchers from Finland found that high levels of lycopene in the blood is linked to a reduced risk of stroke. Sneak in plenty of lycopene-rich red foods easily by drinking a tomato juice like V8 Low Sodium Vegetable Juice at lunch, or packing a juicy red apple to snack on at your kid's soccer game.
Carrots, mangoes, cantaloupe, and other bright orange or yellow foods get their colors from alpha- and beta-carotene. This antioxidant is converted into vitamin A in your body and is essential for eye health, strong joints and bones, and a healthy immune system. Munch on some B4Y Dried Mango Chunks while stuck at the office for your daily boost of beta-carotene, or roast sweet potato slices in the oven to serve alongside dinner.
Green plants, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and zucchini, are packed with chlorophyll, an antioxidant that's been shown to have the potential to reduce inflammation and related illnesses. Green foods are also high in fiber and folate, as well as vitamin C and vitamin K. Generally, the darker the veggies, the more of a nutrient punch they provide. Next time you have a salad, swap out iceberg lettuce for nutrient-dense dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, or arugula. You can also try a shot of wheatgrass—it will make you feel like a superhero!
Blue and purple foods, like blackberries, blueberries, eggplant, and plums, are packed with super-charged antioxidants that may promote heart and brain function and help reduce inflammation all over the body. A study performed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that a half-cup serving of blueberries contained the same quantity of antioxidants as five servings of other fruits and vegetables. These foods are easy to include in your diet. Just reach for B4Y Pitted Prunes as a snack, or chop up some fresh red cabbage for a crunchy slaw. If you aren't able to get enough nutrient-dense fruits or vegetables into your diet, consider taking a daily supplement to help fill the gap.
Don't be fooled—white veggies, like cauliflower, mushrooms, and garlic, are part of the rainbow too. They contain essential quantities of vitamin B-6 and vitamin C to help support bone health and reduce inflammation. Chop up some garlic and onions to add to your next homemade sauce, or munch on a banana as you head out the door to start your day.
A daily rainbow of foods can boost your nutrition and keep you as healthy as you've ever been.
By Rebecca Desfosse
National Institutes of Health, An Update on the Health Effects of Tomato Lycopene
Harvard Health Publishing, Lycopene Rich Tomatoes Linked to Lower Stroke Risk
National Institutes of Health, Vitamin A and Bone Health
National Center for Biotechnology Information, Chlorophyll revisited: anti-inflammatory activities of chlorophyll a and inhibition of expression of TNF-α gene by the same.
NSDU Agriculture, Prairie Fare: Naturally Blue Foods Have Antioxidant Power
Advances in Nutrition, White Vegetables: A Forgotten Source of Nutrients