Have you heard the phrase, “Eat a Rainbow”? Think about red, green, yellow, orange, blue, purple, and even white. These natural colors present in fruits and vegetables supply us with powerful antioxidants and nutrients that help build immunity and reduce risk of many chronic diseases.
With summer approaching, it’s the perfect time to add color to your plate. Developing these healthy eating habits now will help you enjoy produce throughout the year. At the end of this rainbow, there is a pot of gold – your good health.
Benefits of Color
Red: Lycopene, Anthocyanins
Benefits: Heart health, memory function, urinary tract health, lower risk of cancer
Sources: Red apples, Beets, Red cabbage, Cherries, Cranberries, Red grapes, Red peppers, Pomegranates, Raspberries, Rhubarb, Strawberries, Tomatoes, Watermelon
Yellow/Orange: Beta Carotene
Benefits: Vision health, lower blood pressure, lower risk of cancer
Sources: Apricots, Butternut squash, Cantaloupe, Carrots, Mangoes, Nectarines, Oranges, Papayas, Peaches, Yellow peppers, Pineapple, Pumpkin, Yellow summer or winter squash, Sweet corn, Sweet potatoes
Green: Chlorophyll, Lutein
Benefits: Vision health, strong bones and teeth, lower risk of cancer and birth defects.
Sources: Green apples, Artichokes, Asparagus, Green beans, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Green cabbage, Cucumbers, Green grapes, Honeydew melon, Kiwi, Peas, Green pepper, Spinach, Kale, Collard, Mustard & Turnip greens, Zucchini
Benefits: protect cells, reduce risk of cancer, stroke, and heart disease, improve memory function, and promote healthy aging
Sources: Blackberries, Blueberries, Eggplant, Figs, Plums, Prunes, Purple grapes, Purple potatoes
White: Allicin, Anthoxanthins
Benefits: Lower cholesterol and blood pressure; reduce risk of cancer and heart disease
Sources: Bananas, Cauliflower, Garlic, Ginger, Jicama, Mushrooms, Onions, Parsnips, Potatoes, Turnips
Here’s a recipe to enjoy these colors:
Rainbow Ratatouille Pasta Salad
- 1 zucchini, cubed
- 1 eggplant, cubed
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 8 oz. package button mushrooms, sliced
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 (12 ounce) package whole wheat tricolor rotini
- 2 large tomatoes, chopped
- 1 medium carrot, grated
- 2 cups baby spinach
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- Dressing: Combine 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil with 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar.
Add ½ tsp. each of salt, pepper, dried basil & dried oregano. Whisk well.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Combine zucchini, eggplant, onion, mushrooms, bell pepper, and garlic in a rectangle baking dish. Toss with olive oil. Spread in a single layer. Bake for about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.
- Cook the pasta per package directions.
- In a bowl combine roasted vegetables, cooled pasta, tomatoes, carrots, spinach, pine nuts, and dressing. Serve at room temperature.
- Download these free Nutrition Tip Sheets from The Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics: http://www.eatright.org/nutritiontipsheets/
- Get information on benefits, growing tips, and recipes at ‘Fruits and Veggies More Matters’: http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/why-fruits-veggies
- Visit the NC Department of Agriculture website for information on local farmer’s markets and what fruits and vegetables are in season: http://www.ncfarmfresh.com/availability.asp
Parul Kharod, MS, RD, LDN is a clinical dietitian at WakeMed. For more information or to make an appointment with a registered dietitian, call WakeMed Cary Hospital Outpatient Nutrition Services at (919) 350-2358.