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Eat A Rainbow

For the past couple of weeks I have been away, and even though I ate a reasonably ‘healthy’ diet, it wasn’t as high in vegetables and fruit as I’m used to.  Plus, I ate more bread and sugary items than is good for me.  The result: I felt sluggish and bloated, unmotivated to exercise and my mind felt foggy.

After a few days of eating whole plant foods almost exclusively, my mind feels much clearer and my energy has improved.

As I prepared dinner last night I was reminded of a dietary principle from my Kinesiology training: “eat a rainbow” – aim to have a rainbow on your plate at each meal. Foods that are red, yellow/orange, green, blue/purple and white.

An easy way to achieve this is to include a variety of whole plant foods,

By focusing on eating whole foods in a variety of colours you are consuming a broad range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other plant-based nutrients.

Our western diet has become very high in ‘white’ foods.  We love our white potato and refined carbohydrates, consequently we have the health issues associated with consuming a diet with such a limited nutritional range.

Below are some of the benefits of “eating a rainbow”.

Green – spinach, Asian greens, broccoli, kiwifruit, avocado, parsley – leafy greens that contain folate (vitamin B9) needed to make DNA and other genetic material as well as to manufacture cells in the body.  Green plant foods are also high in vitamin K, important for its role in blood clotting.

Yellow/orange – carrots, lemons, corn, grapefruit, sweet potato, pumpkin, mango, pineapple, mandarins. Many orange and yellow foods contain beta-carotene which our body converts into vitamin A, that is good for eyesight, healthy skin and a strong immune system.  Orange fruits are high in vitamin C, which boosts our immune system, especially to fight off colds and flus.

Red – red capsicum, tomatoes, strawberries, red onions, kidney beans.  Tomatoes are high in an antioxidant called lycopene that boosts heart health and may be helpful in slowing down tumour growth in prostate and breast cancer.  They are also high in vitamin A & C.

Blue/purple – blueberries, purple cabbage, beetroot.  Blue and purple plants get their colour from antioxidants called anthocyanins.  These antioxidants show anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-cancer benefits.

White – onion, parsnips, mushrooms, banana – White plant foods are often high in potassium, important for blood pressure regulation. It also helps muscle and nerve function.

When “eating a rainbow” I suggest you don’t overthink it.

I remember getting caught up in trying to assess if a green apple should be classed as a green food (the skin) or a white food (the flesh) or an eggplant purple (skin) or white (flesh). I decided they can each be classified as both. To aim for a variety of foods and colours is more important than assessing each individual food.

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