We have all heard the phrase “eat the colors of the rainbow”. In other words, eat as many different colored foods as possible (think fruits and vegetables, not gummy bears and jelly beans). Of course this makes sense. Eating the colors of the rainbow ensures that you are eating a variety of foods. This means that you are likely consuming a variety of nutrients. But when you eat the colors of the rainbow you are consuming more than just a few vitamins and minerals.
The rich colors in fruits and vegetables are provided by many of the Phytonutrients they contain. When it comes to plants, phytonutrients help to protect against predators and natural elements. When we consume plants we consume their protective nutrients, which then help to shield us from various diseases and conditions. For example, the deep red, purple, and blue colors of berries, apples, and grapes come from a phytonutrient called anthocyanin. It is believed that anthocyanin protects against certain forms of cancer. Another would be carotenoids. Carotenoids are responsible for some of the bright yellow, orange, and red varieties of fruits and vegetables. Carotenoids are believed to protect our vision and help prevent heart disease.
With words like anthocyanin, carotenoids, and phytonutrients, it is understandable if this concept feels a bit overwhelming. The most important thing to remember is that the rich colors in fruits and vegetables give them disease fighting properties. The more colors we consume, the more protection we receive.
Although we still have a lot to learn about the disease fighting properties of fruits and vegetables, studies have shown that people consuming plant based diets have significantly lower disease rates than their non-plant eating counterparts. Don’t worry, you don’t have to go full on vegetarian to reap the benefits. Just be sure to include adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables in your diet (4-5 servings of each per day) and be sure to “eat the colors of the rainbow.”
Need tips on how to squeeze more fruits and vegetables into your day? Check out our August blog, “5-9 Servings? No Problem! 6 Easy Ways to Sneak Fruits and Vegetables into Your Day” at the link below. Happy Eating!