Eat a Rainbow

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

Blue/Purple: Anthocyanins

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

Ingredients

  • 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.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. 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.
  3. Cook the pasta per package directions.
  4. In a bowl combine roasted vegetables, cooled pasta, tomatoes, carrots, spinach, pine nuts, and dressing. Serve at room temperature.

Useful resources:

  1. Color Your Plate with Salad
  2. 20 Ways To Enjoy More Fruits and Vegetables

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.


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