Why is it important to eat lots of different colored fruits and vegetables? Because each colored vegetable and fruit has unique properties and there is strong evidence of interactions between the colors that are beneficial to your health. Eating by the Rainbow is vitally important to your well-being.
Here are the colors:
Red foods contain lycopene that helps rid the body of damaging free radicals and protects against prostate cancer, as well as heart and lung disease. The red foods are loaded with antioxidants thought to protect against heart disease by preventing blood clots, and may also delay the aging of cells in the body.
Orange and Yellow foods contain alpha carotene, which protects against cancer, but also contain beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A, protecting the skin against free-radical damage. Beta-carotene is also good for night vision.
Yams and sweet potatoes
Oranges and Tangerines
Yellow summer or winter squash
Green foods contain the chemicals that help ward off cancer by inhibiting carcinogens. Chlorophyll is the component that makes plants green, and it is purifying in the body. Many green foods also contain calcium and minerals.
Kale, spinach, and other leafy greens
Blue, Indigo, and Violet foods contain the compound anthocyanins that not only give food their color but also have been shown to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and increasing heart health.
Plums, fresh and dried
White foods, though not part of the color of the rainbow, contain properties that have anti-tumor qualities, such as allicin in onions as well as other health-improving antioxidants such as the flavanoids. The white foods, like bananas and potatoes, contain potassium as well.
So how do you incorporate these fruits and vegetables into your daily eating habits?
Here are some sample menus to get you started:
An orange. Sauté 1/2 red pepper, ½ onion, 2 shitake mushrooms, and 2 cloves garlic. Add 3 cups leafy greens (spinach leaves are fine) and 3 eggs. Cook until eggs are done and serve.
Strawberries. Oatmeal made with cubed butternut squash or pureed pumpkin, topped with raw walnut pieces and raw pumpkin seeds.
Turkey sandwich on whole grain bread with sprouts, lettuce, tomato slices, avocado, and grated carrots. Serve with a 2-cup salad made with romaine lettuce and raw cauliflower, broccoli, and garbanzo beans.
Spinach salad topped with black olives, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, and cauliflower. Add beans or chicken if you like. Toss with fresh lemon juice and either olive oil or flax oil or a combination of the two. Sprinkle fresh parsley, chopped, on top.
Grilled fish or chicken breast or black beans and brown rice (protein). Coleslaw made with green and red cabbage with red onions and grated carrots. Baked yam.
Pasta primavera made with spinach fettuccini, sautéed red peppers, onions, garlic, zucchini, carrots, and whatever else is in season.
1 cup blueberries and cantaloupe
Jicama slices with salsa and celery with hummus or peanut or almond butter
Pineapple chunks and banana slices
Raw veggies with your favorite dip. Hummus is a good choice.
Tangerine slices with herb tea
Remember that you need 5–9 cups of vegetables and fruits a day for good health. Make sure at least half of your veggies are raw. Don't forget that juicing can incorporate many colored fruits and veggies easily and may be a good choice for those who may not be able to chew raw fruits and veggies.
Patty James is a Certified Natural Chef with a Master's degree in Holistic Nutrition and was founder and director of the Patty James Cooking School and Nutrition Center, the first certified organic cooking school and nutrition center in the country. She created the Patty James Health Guide, a guide to life-long healthy eating and lifestyle. Patty is a frequent guest speaker in public and private schools around the US, the Clinton Foundation in New York, as well as to health practitioners and organizations. Patty runs Shine the Light on America's Kids, an organization whose mission is to shine the light on all aspects of kids' health in America. She is the author of More Vegetables, Please! Website: PattyJames.com and ShineTheLightOnKids.org
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