Eight health benefits of eating the rainbow + recipes for each color
Just as it’s important to celebrate diversity and inclusion with the people around us, it’s best to diversify our food colors.
Consuming all different colors in the spectrum in our food is called Eating the Rainbow.
What does eating the rainbow mean and why do it?
The more natural colors you consume, the more nutrients your body receives. As you think of a rainbow, eat as many different fruits and vegetables as you can from each color.
From deep reds full of lycopene to the antioxidant blues and nutritional powerhouse greens, our bodies thrive on the diversity of nutrients available in the many different colors.
Our ancestors used to eat thousands of different varieties of foods, yet the average American today eats less than 30. We can't possibly get the full spectrum of available nutrients necessary to fuel our body if we only eat pizza, pasta, and sandwiches.
What are the health benefits?
Let’s break it down by each color of the rainbow.
Pay attention to the color red in your foods if preventing cancer is appealing to you.
Deep red pigments are often high in vitamin C and flavonoids, both known for their antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help prevent cancer!
Beets, for example, are cancer fighting gems. They’re full of magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc. In addition to their antioxidant effects, beets can help reduce inflammation and aid digestion.
✔️Try grating them raw into a salad. Remember, you can eat the beet greens, which are often more flavorful than spinach.
✔️juicing them with carrots and apples
✔️roast them. Here’s a recipe: https://cookieandkate.com/perfect-roasted-beets/
Orange plants are known for their beta-carotene, an antioxidant that promotes eye health, brain health, and can prevent the skin from sun damage.
Orange is the best known color of carrots, but they also come in other hues, including purple, yellow, red, and white.
🥕 Carrots’ are famous for being good for eyesight, being rich in beta-carotene.
As with lycopene from the red foods, beta carotene is also more easily absorbed when cooked. However, the vitamin C prevalent in orange foods is delicate and can be slightly damaged when cooked. Thus, it is important to eat a combination of raw and cooked orange vegetables to get the best of both worlds.
Here’s an article about how to best steam your veggies: Steamed Vegetables (foodfoundation.com)
Other orange foods to enjoy: butternut squash, cantaloupe, guava, mango, nectarines, peaches, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and tangerines. 🍑
A taste of sunshine is the color yellow, and the foods that display its radiance include pineapples, turmeric, bananas, spaghetti squash.
Don’t forget a star of the yellow show: lemons.
🍋 Lemons are packed full of vitamin C and can make the flavors in a dish pop to perfection. Lemons are full of 22 cancer preventing compounds, and lemon oil is a natural antibacterial that can clean out the intestines.
🍋 Although lemon juice is acidic, it alkalizes the body and can be enjoyed on a daily basis for detoxification.
🍋 Try including lemon slices in your water not only to make it pretty and appealing, but also to jumpstart your metabolism and begin the natural process of detoxification in the liver.
The bottom line is: Yellow foods aid digestion.
If you’d like more ways to prepare lemons, check out my YouTube video: Life giving you lemons? Preserve them, it's easy! - YouTube
Choose green if you want the most health-benefit bang for your buck! 🍃
In addition to many other health benefits, eating dark leafy greens lowers cholesterol levels naturally.
Green is so much more than iceberg lettuce. Try including these greens in your summer salads: arugula, bok choy, parsley, cilantro, swiss chard, and kale.
While you’re adding green to your salad, try some cucumbers, green peppers, avocado, broccoli, and peas. 🥦
Making your own simple salad dressing will help to add healthy fat, which will improve your chances of absorbing the nutrients in those greens. 🥗🥑
Include a few basic ingredients: 👇
2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1-2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (or any other vinegar of choice)
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp maple syrup
a pinch of sea salt
You can have a delicious and healthy salad in minutes.
Anxious about losing your memory? You may want to step up your blueberry consumption. 🤔
Studies have shown that 1 cup of wild blueberries a day have improved aging memory cells in humans. 🧠
Blueberries are the number one antioxidant rich fruit, according to the USDA. Antioxidants prevent oxidative cell damage which can lead to Alzheimer's, heart disease, and cancerous cells.
Try a berry healthy smoothie. 💙
Add the following to a blender:
2 Tbsp nut or seed butter
1 Tbsp coconut butter, cream, or oil
1 cup full fat plain yoghurt
1 cup full fat milk, nut milk, or coconut milk
Next, add 1/2 cup frozen blueberries and 2 frozen Bananas, plus an optional handful of baby spinach
Blend until smooth and delicious!
Purple is close to blue in the rainbow spectrum, but there are so many pleasing purple plants to consider: eggplant, blackberries, purple plums, figs, purple potatoes, grapes, and prunes. 🍆
Plus, purple cabbage. 💜
Toss colored cabbage together with fresh herbs and crunchy peanuts for a quick dinner salad and tasty leftovers the next day. 🌿🥜
Here’s a quick recipe: Easy Cabbage Salad (foodfoundation.com)
Cabbage, especially red or purple cabbage, raises levels of beta-carotene, lutein, and other heart-protective antioxidants. It also helps lower “oxidized” LDL, which is linked to hardening of the arteries. And since eating cabbage can lower inflammation, it can also help prevent heart disease.
At the end of our Eat the Rainbow challenge we don't want to forget about the color white.
Veggies in this color category include: mushrooms, onions , parsnips, garlic, potatoes, and cauliflower.
One idea to eat all of these at once is to chop them and sizzle in a stir fry. 👌
Another is this tasty recipe: Cauliflower Kuku or Persian Frittata (foodfoundation.com) 😋
Cauliflower is naturally high in fiber and B-vitamins. It provides antioxidants and phytonutrients that can protect against cancer. It also contains fiber to enhance weight loss and digestion, choline that is essential for learning and memory, and many other important nutrients.
Want to learn more?
There you have it: health benefits for each color of rainbow and some recipe ideas as you eat the rainbow. ✨
If you would like to learn more about Eating the Rainbow, click here to listen to my talk for Barbie Aknin's Community Cuisine. In this presentation, I share some ayurvedic principles and how they relate to food as energy.
Eat and move through the rainbow
In addition to eating through the rainbow, you can also move through the rainbow.
Check out my
Rainbow Chakra Yoga Series on YouTube if you want to learn more about each color and how it relates energetically in the body.