Meaning of “Eating the rainbow”
To eat the rainbow refers to making sure we eat a variety of vegetables and fruits of different colors on a daily basis. Those various colors are the product of chemicals which are held within each fruit or vegetable. They give us an array of nutrients with high antioxidant values. So each day, we want to provide our bodies with a “rainbow” of micronutrients!
Red, blue, and purple vegetables and fruits
In How (& Why) to Eat More Vegetables, Dr. Thomas Cowan explains that “Red, blue and purple plants contain in abundance chemicals called anthocyanins, which have been shown to decrease heart disease, prevent strokes, prevent macular degeneration and improve memory. Preliminary work also suggests they help regulate cell division in mammalian cells and thus may be effective as a cancer medicine or in prevention.” So it is important, each day, to consume a few blueberries, tomatoes, pomegranates, peppers, eggplants, or tree collards, for instance. I regularly enjoy putting a cup of mixed berries in my smoothies, blended with almond milk, a scoop of collagen protein, and a few other healthy powders.
In the book mentioned above, Dr. Thomas Cowan further explains that when it comes to the chlorophyll in green vegetables, the “[i]ngested chlorophyll has many roles in mammals; it serves as a primary detoxifier of our tissues, it prevents cancer, improves vision and is usually found in plants with abundant vitamin C and folate, both crucial for cellular health and overall disease prevention.” We can easily find a great number of green vegetables. So benefiting daily from what chlorophyll offers in abundance (the greener the plant) is a sure way to sustain our health and wellness goals. I eat salads almost every day. And I Iove using some of Dr. Cowan’s Garden powders in order to have a greater variety of plants in my diet. These powders are very helpful, especially in winter. Do not forget to add herbs to your daily dishes too! And consuming algae (like chlorella and spirulina) when you can is a plus!
Orange and yellow vegetables and fruits
Still according to Dr. Thomas Cowan, “Orange and yellow colors mean that the various carotenoids are present…. Carotenoids participate in the health of the immune system, are needed for vision maintenance, decrease heart disease and help in cancer.” So eating carrots, beets, winter squash or pumpkins, for instance, is one way to tap into this category of nutrients. I also like to regularly consume sweet potatoes.
When it comes to white plants, Dr. Thomas Cowan states that they “contain chemicals called polyphenols, including a chemical called anthoxanthin. Anthoxanthin was found to decrease blood pressure, decrease cancer risk and prevent strokes. White plants usually have abundant levels of potassium, vitamin C, folate and other B vitamins.” Incorporating white plants to your dishes can easily be done by simply opting for onions and garlic. Onions and garlic are alliums, along with shallots, all great for cooking. If you want to read more about garlic, you can check my blog post, Why Herbs and Spices are a Must. Also in the white plant category, zucchinis and white asparagus are great picks!
As we can see, “eating the rainbow” is, indeed, important. Even with a busy schedule, eating the rainbow is fairly easy to do on a daily basis. We can plan ahead for the week, of course. Or we can simply make sure that vegetables of each category are on-hand at all times. I say vegetables because, as mentioned by Dr. Catherine Shanahan in Food Rules, “Your vegetable-to-fruit purchase ratio should be five to one.” A lot of fruits contain quite a bit of sugar and should be considered as occasional treats only. But then again, we are all different individuals. By checking your blood sugar regularly, as suggested in my blog post Which Healthy Sugar Substitutes Can We Buy, you will be able to tell which foods work for you. And the produce you get should be mostly organic, as explained in What to Buy Organic. Red, blue, purple, green, orange, yellow, and white plants, when picked wisely, have some amazing powers to help us feel our best!
Calton, PhD, Jayson, and Mira Calton, CN. The Micronutrient Miracle. New York, Rodale, 2015, p. 207.
Cowan, M.D., Thomas. How (& Why) to Eat More Vegetables. Library of Congress No. 2016934925, 2016, pp. 24–26.
Shanahan, MD, Catherine. Food Rules : A Doctor’s Guide to Healthy Eating. Bedford, Nh, Big Box Books, 2010, p. 32.
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