Doctor Says "Eat a Rainbow"
Updated: Aug 26, 2019
Continuing our Journey to a Healthy Life
Healthy eating advocates often tell people to "eat the rainbow."
It's a simple way of reminding you that a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet will get you the vitamins and minerals you need. It also calls out the fact that you can learn a lot about your food just by looking at it. Here's what it means, and how it works.
You may have heard the phrase "eat the rainbow" before dietitians, doctors, or other health and wellness advisors use the phrase to get people, especially children to incorporate more fruits and veggies in their diets. On its face, it's a good suggestion—but as simple as the catchphrase is, it hides some of the science behind why a variation of fruits and vegetables can be both pleasing to the eye and good for your health. Let's take a look at the details, and why it's a good idea to "eat the rainbow" at all.
When someone says "eat the rainbow," they're trying to explain, in a simplified way, that the colour of your food can tell you a lot about its nutritional value, and eating a variety of colours is one sure method to get as many of those vitamins and minerals as possible (and eat a broad, diverse amount of food in the process.) The phrase is actually an oversimplification of a real issue. It's not difficult to get the vitamins and nutrients you need from a solid, balanced diet, but it can be difficult if you're a picky eater, or have children who don't exactly like to expand their horizons. In fact, much of the documentation we found that uses the phrase is aimed at parents helping children adopt a more healthful diet.
The key here is to note that certain colours of food indicate an abundance of specific nutrients. For example,
Yellow and orange fruits and vegetables (citrus fruits, gourds, for example) are abundant in vitamins C and A.
Green fruits and veggies (kale, spinach, asparagus, avocado) are high in vitamins K, B, and E. Purple produce on the other hand (eggplant, red cabbage, grapes) are high in vitamins C and K.
The reason you can tell these from looking is because plants often derive their colours from various phytochemicals found in them. Those chemicals then offer you different nutrients when they're eaten. That's the root of "eating the rainbow."
In short, adding a variety of colourful produce to your diet is an easy way to get a lot of vitamins and minerals without putting in too much effort beyond selecting a bunch of colours.
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