by Abby DiBenedetto | Photograph by Cayla Zahoran | Styling by Allie Wist

Eating Rainbow: Colors of a Healthy Diet

Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple are the colors of the rainbow — and the colors of a healthy, vitamin and nutrient-rich diet! Start incorporating as many colors as possible onto your plate, and you’ll begin to reap the benefits of these healthful hues.

“When we hear the word ‘chemicals,’ we usually think of something harmful. However, plants, including the fruits and vegetables that we eat, are full of ‘plant chemicals,’ known as phytochemicals. Diets rich in these plant chemicals — diets that include lots of fruits and vegetables, grains and legumes — seem to help protect us from many diseases: heart disease, certain cancers, infectious diseases, osteoporosis, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, hypertension, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and other disorders.” —Mim Seidel of Chatham University Food Studies Program

“Purple, blue, red, and orange are considered to be the most antioxidant-rich foods. In general, the deeper the color pigment, the more densely packed with nutrients the food is.” —Specialists from the Pittsburgh Center for Complementary Health and Healing

“Cranberries help stop bacteria from attaching to the wall of the bladder, lowering your risk for infection.” —Specialists from the Pittsburgh Center for Complementary Health and Healing

[TRY] Blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, apples, and oranges.

“The lutein and zeaxanthin in green foods support eye health.” —UPMC Dietitian Leslie Bonci

[TRY] Spinach, greens, and broccoli.

“Remember that there is no one vegetable or fruit, and no one color, that provides all the health benefits described above (heart disease, certain cancers, infectious diseases, osteoporosis, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, hypertension, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration). That’s why it is important to eat a rainbow of colors every day. And, frozen fruits and veggies have the same benefits as fresh.” —Mim Seidel of Chatham University Food Studies Program

“Antioxidant rich foods protect the cells from damage — think carotenoids in carrots, sweet potatoes, and citrus to keep the lungs healthy.” —UPMC Dietitian Leslie Bonci

[TRY] Carrots, sweet potatoes, oranges, tangerines, and grapefruit.

[TIP] “Juice half a lemon into 4 ounces of warm water, and drink to boost immune system, balance pH, aid with weight loss, and aid with digestion and detoxification. The mixture acts as a gentle, natural diuretic and clears the skin.” —Specialists from the Pittsburgh Center for Complementary Health and Healing

“Try to add color at every meal — add dried fruit to chili or stew, throw chopped up broccoli into a spaghetti sauce, add frozen or fresh fruit to oatmeal.” —UPMC Dietitian Leslie Bonci

This article is featured in the January 2013 issue of WHIRL Magazine.
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