Are the cheerful rainbows made out of fruits and vegetables just more healthy food propaganda or is there something to eating fruits and veggies of every color? Whether you are 4 or 40 you probably know by now that you should be eating your fruit and vegetables. In the early 2000’s books like What Color Is Your Diet and The Color Code: A Revolutionary Eating Plan for Optimum Health were published and the world went crazy. These type of books inspired people to eat more foods you can grow at home. And they brought new perspective to nutrition. Instead of focusing on food groups they introduced new ways to organize the foods we eat. (1) Whether or not eating the rainbow is better or not than eating monochromatically, eating foods in a variety of colors is fun, entertaining and healthy.
Red is by far one of the easiest colors to eat. There is such a great variety of red foods: Apples, cherries, cranberries, pomegranate, raspberries, beets, bell peppers, chili peppers etc. But it isn’t just their availability that makes them so desirable.
Red foods can be very healthy. An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Pomegranate juice strengthens your heart. (2) Chili peppers have been shown to be great for weight loss. (3) Rhubarb is an old asian cure for allergies. (4) And Tomatoes aren’t just fun to look at they have been shown to improve your immune system. (5)
Red foods also have the greatest range of flavor of any color. From the sweetness of strawberries to the acidity of tomatoes and even to the tartness of rhubarb, red has it all.
Orange foods are just as vibrant as red foods. There bold coloring makes any plate look more appetizing. Oranges, carrots, pumpkin, apricot, mango, cantaloupe, butternut squash, peaches, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, habanero peppers, etc. have a similar range of flavors to red foods and they can be just as delicious.
The carotenoid pigment that makes orange foods orange have anti-oxidative properties. (6)
I’m always grateful when life gives me lemons. Unlike a lot of yellow foods lemons have a very distinctive taste. Summer squash, pears, turnips, corn, cauliflower, chard, spaghetti squash, bell peppers, etc. have nowhere near as recognizable a flavor.
Lots of tropical fruits are yellow. Bananas, pineapple, star fruit, etc. are all deliciously tropical. Bananas are iconically high in potassium (7). but lemons are the universal symbol of sour.
Face it when you think yellow fruit you think lemons. Lemons are great! They are high in antioxidants and make great lemonade (8). They just aren’t so great you should ignore other yellow foods.
Green foods are abundant. It’s too bad that so many children develop an “allergy” to them. The dark green leafy vegetable you learn to hate as a kid you’ll learn to love as an adult.
Dark leafy greens are full of fiber and antioxidants (9). They include but aren’t limited to, brussels sprouts, kiwi, broccoli, spinach, kale, cucumbers, avocado, peas, green beans, cabbage, asparagus, celery, zucchini, limes, jalapeño peppers etc.
Blue is one of the hardest foods to find. Aside from blueberries and blue corn there aren’t many blue foods. However don’t ignore these two blue foods. Blueberries and blue corn are extremely high in antioxidants. Blue corn has higher antioxidant capacity than white corn. (10)
Purple foods can also be hard to get in your diet. They aren’t as rare as blue foods but they definitely aren’t the most popular foods. Grapes, plums, eggplants, purple cabbages, purple cauliflowers and purple potatoes are all really good examples of purple foods.
There are plenty of foods to eat in every color. From red to green and orange to purple, the variety of different colored fruits and vegetables is great but the benefits of eating a diverse amount of fruits and vegetables is even greater.