The “eat the rainbow” philosophy is rooted in eating an abundance and variety of nutrient-rich, plant-based foods. Visualising the rainbow as you eat throughout the week, will help you to incorporate a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants into your diet. WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO EAT THE RAINBOW The colours we see in our fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods represent powerful, key nutrients called phytonutrients! Phytonutrients essentially help us to prevent and heal from disease. The best way to determine which phytonutrients we are getting is to use the colour of the fruit or vegetable we’re eating. If we’re always just eating red fruits or vegetables, we’re only getting the phytonutrients that are associated with the red colour. The more your plate resembles the rainbow, the more nutrients we’re getting overall! THE BENEFITS OF EACH COLOUR OF FOOD Red Food Benefits: anti-aging properties and improved heart health The red foods in your diet are great sources of antioxidants. The phytonutrients present are flavonoids or carotenoids. Both of these phytonutrients have been shown to help prevent sun damage when consumed consistently. Less sun damage means fewer signs of ageing! Additionally, their antioxidant status means they are anti-inflammatory, which can help to prevent chronic diseases and improve heart health as well. Red foods: Red peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries, red apples, beets, red lentils, kidney beans, red rice, pomegranate Orange Food Benefits: Improved eyesight Orange fruits and vegetables are packed with carotenoids, which are associated with promoting healthy vision. Because of their antioxidant content as well, they too are known to help prevent certain cancers and eye diseases. Orange foods: Carrots, orange peppers, butternut squash, pumpkin, oranges, nectarines, peaches, cantaloupe, mango, papaya Yellow Food Benefits: cancer prevention, anti-microbial, and anti-inflammatory properties Turmeric has had its time in the light for quite a few years now, ever wonder why? Curcuminoids are to thank for this! They’re the phytonutrients responsible for that potent bright yellow colour found in turmeric as well as all the other yellow fruits and vegetables. Because of their anti-cancer, microbial, and anti inflammatory properties, these yellow food items have been shown to help to heal those with Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and even diabetes. Yellow foods: Banana, yellow peppers, summer squash, squash, yellow apples (ex. golden delicious), lemons, pineapple, corn, turmeric Green Food Benefits: digestion support and disease prevention Eating plenty of greens increases your fibre intake, which supports your digestion on a daily basis. Additionally, they can also help decrease your chances of developing many disease states. Once again, antioxidants are abundant here, which help to ward off disease or prevent disease in the first place. Keep up your intake of greens to help keep both your cholesterol levels and chances of developing disease low! Green foods: Leafy greens, green peppers, broccoli, zucchini, green beans, brussels sprouts, green cabbage, asparagus, green apples, cucumbers Blue and Purple Food Benefits: Improved heart health and cancer prevention The blue and purple colours you see in an abundance of plant-foods are likely due to the flavonoids present. These have been studied over the years in association with coronary heart disease prevention as well as anticancer activity. By adding more blue and purple food items to your diet you can help to improve your heart health and reduce your chances of developing certain types of cancer. Blue and purple foods: blueberries, grapes, blackberries, red cabbage, purple carrots, eggplant, purple potatoes, figs, plums, purple cauliflower, red leaf lettuce, purple peppers, red kale, raisins, purple cabbage White and Brown Food Benefits: strengthen bones and reduce menopausal symptoms The phytonutrients lignan is present in many brown/white food items. Lignans have been shown to help reduce the chances of osteoporosis development over time. Not only that, but their antioxidant properties have shown that they may help to reduce menopausal symptoms as well! Brown and white foods: Ground flax, lentils, ginger, garlic, onions, chickpeas, legumes, nuts, seeds 5 TIPS TO EATING THE RAINBOW THROUGHOUT THE WEEK Adding variety to your diet can seem like a daunting task, but it’s a lot simpler than you might think. Here are some simple strategies for incorporating more variety without getting overwhelmed. 1. Keep Your Favourites on Hand As you look through the list of foods for each colour, you’ll be able to pick out a few favourites from each category. Identify a few favourites of each colour that you can have on hand in the freezer, pantry, and fridge so it’s easy to think “what colour am I missing today, and what do I have that I can add to my plate?” 2. Add Variety to Your Weekly Shopping List Once you have a few of your favourites stocked, you can then increase variety week by week. When you eat the rainbow, you want to think about both having variety among the different colours and also variety among the ingredients in each colour too! For example, if you normally grab spinach as your salad base, choose a different green, such as rocket, kale, or watercress. 3. Take Advantage of Produce That Comes in More Than One Colour Many fruits and vegetables come in a variety of colours — think red, green, and yellow peppers, orange and purple carrots, red and green apples! One easy switch up with some of your favourites is simply to buy the other colour option (or even better, buy a mix of the options)! 4. Utilise the Frozen Food Section When Necessary Fresh fruits and vegetables are great, but don’t let their short shelf life prevent you from reaping the benefits! If you find that you’re unable to buy certain fruits or vegetables fresh, head to the frozen food section. The nutrition composition is just as good and they last twice as long. 5. Make Eating the Rainbow Fun for Your Children Too! Colours are a great way to engage young children. Make “eat the rainbow” a fun and enjoyable process and habit for the entire family!