Eat the rainbow

By Lindsay Adams
April 19, 2016 at midnight

Lindsay Adams

Lindsay Adams   Contributed Photo for The Victoria Advocate

When it comes to fruits and vegetables, dietitians often encourage their patients to eat the rainbow. The idea behind this statement is to consume a variety of different items that all contain different nutrients, contributing to a well-balanced diet. Interestingly, individual color groupings of fruits/vegetables tend to contain similar nutrients. Check out the benefits associated with these different groups.

Red

Examples of red fruits and veggies include tomatoes and tomato products, pink grapefruit, pink grapefruit juice and watermelon. These foods contain lycopene, which studies have shown may reduce the risk of several types of cancer, including prostate cancer.

Red-purple

Grapes, grape juice, red wine, prunes, cranberries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries are some foods that fall into this category. These foods contain anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that may have a beneficial effect on the heart by inhibiting the formation of blood clots. They may also defend against carcinogens.

Orange

Orange foods often contain beta carotene, which improves communication between cells, helping them fight the spread of cancer. Some orange foods to incorporate into your diet include carrots, mangoes, pumpkin, winter squash, sweet potatoes, apricots and cantaloupe.

Orange-yellow

This grouping has a slightly different shade than the previous group of orange items. Oranges, orange juice, tangerines, yellow grapefruit, peaches, lemons, limes, papayas, pineapples, nectarines are considered part of the orange-yellow group of fruits and are all high in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that helps protect cells.

Yellow-green

Another great color class of veggies and fruits to include in your diet is the yellow-green grouping. Collard, spinach, mustard and turnip greens, yellow corn, green beans, green peas, avocado and honeydew melon are examples of foods that fall into this category. These contain lutein, which protects the retina from radiation, reducing the risk of macular degeneration, a condition that can lead to premature blindness.

Green

We can't forget our greens - broccoli, Brussels sprouts, any type of cabbage, kale, cauliflower and watercress. These contain phytochemicals that enhance the breakdown and excretion of cancer-causing compounds in the liver.

White-green

Garlic, onions, chives, leeks, green onions and shallots are often minor ingredients in different dishes, but they, too, may have health benefits. These alliums contain compounds that help protect DNA. Other white-green fruits and vegetables, including asparagus, pears, artichokes, endive, mushrooms, celery and white wine, are rich in flavonoids - antioxidants that protect cell membranes.

So the next time you are at the grocery store, pick up some new fruits and veggies to expand your color and nutrient pallet. Your body will thank you for the good fuel.

Lindsay Adams is a registered dietitian with. Detar Healthcare Systems. Send questions or comments to dietitians@vicad.com.


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