Color Your World Nutritious
A Colorful Meal is a Healthy Meal
If you're trying to guide your family into a more healthy lifestyle, but finding it very difficult to sort out all the nutritional guidelines, you're not alone. All those calorie charts and ratios of protein to carbohydrates, how much vegetable and fruit to grains etc. may be too confusing or just take more time than you're willing to spend. There's an easier way. Eat a rainbow. That's right, a rainbow. There are fruits and veggies of every color and you should be eating some of each color every week. Proteins and whole grains added into this rainbow will give you a basic idea of what gives you complete nutrition without having to consult a kitchen scale or pages and pages of charts. There's another reason to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Studies show that fruits and vegetables also contain substances called phytonutrients that help protect your body and may even help prevent some illnesses.
Lets start with proportions. How much of our diet should consist of fruits and veggies, how much grains, proteins and dairy? ChooseMyPlate has an easy chart to show you. At least half of your diet should consist of fruits and veggies. Protein should make up about 10 to 25% and the rest should be grains and dairy. See? That was easy!
And just so we’re clear, diet doesn’t mean deprivation. It simply means “what you eat”, so don’t think I’m trying to convince you to starve yourself.
Nature has color coded fruits and vegetables to reflect their basic nutritional value.
Orange and Yellow
These colors denote the “carotenoids,” easy to remember because it sounds like carrot! Carotenoids are an excellent source of vitamins A, B, and C and folate. Their main function is to maintain healthy eyes, improve immune system function, reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and can lower the risk of birth defects.
cantaloupe, mangoes, lemons, tangerines, nectarines, oranges, grapefruit, papayas, apricots, peaches, pears, pineapple, yellow apples, yellow peppers, carrots, butternut squash, pumpkin, corn, sweet potatoes.
Sweet potatoes are said to be the most nutritious single vegetable. Many of these fruits, such as papaya and pineapple, also contain enzymes that improve digestion and and balance the over-all system.
The color greens denotes a presence of chlorophyll. They also contain lutein and indoles Green foods will help lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels, protect against free-radicals, regulate digestion, boost the immune system, support retinal health and vision and reduce cancer risk.
avocado, apples, grapes, honeydew, kiwi, lime; vegetables – artichoke, asparagus, broccoli, brussel sprouts, green beans, green peppers, leafy greens
Blue, Purple and Red
Anthocyanins, which give a blue-purple color and phenolics, may have antioxidant and anti-aging benefits and may help with memory, urinary tract health and reduced cancer risks.
blackberries, blueberries, plums, raisins, eggplant, purple cabbage, purple-fleshed potato.
The color red indicates lycopene, a powerful carotenoid, as well as anthocyanins. They may help maintain a healthy heart, vision, immunity and may reduce cancer risks.
cherries, cranberries, pomegranate, red/pink grapefruit, red grapes, watermelon, beets, red onions, red peppers, red potatoes, rhubarb, tomatoes.
White Tan and Brown
White, tan and brown fruits and vegetables supply a wide variety of nutrients.
Jicama is high in vitamin c and gives a delicious crunch to a raw veggie platter or salad.
Onion and garlic are highly antibacterial and boost immunity as well as promoting healthy heart and cardiovascular function.
Mushrooms provide many nutrients found in produce but also contain vital nutrients found in meats, beans and grains. They are high in anti-oxidants and selenium making them beneficial for those at risk for cancer.
Cauliflower, like other crucifers (broccoli and dark green leavy veggies), are high in Vitamin C and folate.
Bananas are an excellent source of potassium
- Orange and yellow provide Vitamins A, B, C and folate
- Green contain lutein and indoles. Helps promote healthy cholesterol and provides protection from free radicals
- Blue, purple and red contain Anthocyanins, which give a blue-purple color and phenolics, may have antioxidant and anti-aging benefits and may help with memory, urinary tract health and reduced cancer risks.
- White, tan and brown fruits and vegetables supply a wide variety of nutrients.
Summing it All Up
Providing nutritious meals for your family doesn't need to be confusing or time consuming. Simply eat a rainbow.
Remember that food provides much more than the Vitamins and Minerals needed to support health. It also provides many phytochemicals to protect against disease.