It’s no secret that vegetables are good for us. Eating a diverse array of colorful veggies is a great way to boost your intake of fiber, a variety of micronutrients and phytonutrients.
OPEX Gyms provide personalized nutrition coaching, but one thing every client can benefit from is eating the rainbow! Clients who eat 10 shades of fruit and veggies each day get a gold star. After assessing your nutrition, your OPEX Coach will help you with an initial “colors” goal, whether that be 1 or 10, and teach you how to up your intake and variety over time as needed.
Getting more greens in your diet is a good start, but did you know that different colors offer different phytonutrients and their associated health benefits? Here’s a breakdown of why it’s important to eat red, purple/blue, orange/yellow, green and brown/white fruits and vegetables.
Red fruits and vegetables are colored by a pigment called lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that is important for heart health and reduces the risk of cancer.
- Red peppers
- Red onions
Purple/blue fruits and vegetables offer anthocyanin and resveratrol, with antioxidant properties that protect against cell damage and reduce the risk of cancer, stroke and heart disease.
- Red (purple) grapes
- Red (purple) cabbage
Orange/yellow fruits and vegetables are packed with carotenoids, which are great for cell growth, immune function and healthy eyes and skin.
- Sweet potatoes
- Winter squash (butternut, kabocha, delicata, acorn)
- Yellow summer squash
- Orange and yellow peppers
- Golden beets
Green fruits and vegetables contain a wide variety of vitamins, including K, C, A and a great source of calcium, folic acid and potassium. They are colored by chlorophyll and are rich in phytochemicals, isothiocyanates and indoles, that increase production of cancer-fighting enzymes.
- Green apples
- Green grapes
- Green beans
- Green capsicum
Brown/white fruits and vegetables contain a range of phytochemicals, including allicin, which has antiviral and antibacterial properties. They are known for their antioxidant flavonoid content, linked to preventing heart disease.
- Daikon radish
Here’s an example of what eating a variety of different fruits and vegetables might look like:
Breakfast: Smoothie with banana, zucchini, spinach, protein powder and nut butter (3)
Lunch: Salad of grilled chicken with shredded purple cabbage, arugula, cherry tomatoes and avocado (4)
Snack: Carrot and celery sticks with hummus (2)
Dinner: Salmon with stir-fried mushrooms, red peppers, garlic and onion (4)
Dessert: Blueberries (1)
That is an over-achieving 14 shades in one day! With a little planning and a weekly trip to the grocery store or farmers market, eating 10+ serves a day isn’t as hard as it sounds.
Write down your meals for the day and count out your current color intake. Try to beat it by one every week, until you’re a pro at eating the rainbow!