Use the visual appeal of the rainbow to help kids eat five servings of fruits and vegetables per day (seven to nine for adults). Mix and match colors throughout the week to increase exposure to different nutrients. Check out the myplate pinterest page and acefitness.org/acefit/healthy-recipes for ideas.
RED: High in lycopene, tomatoes are potent antioxidants. Apples, cherries, strawberries and raspberries are loaded with anthocyanins to optimize heart health. Berries and pomegranates contain ellagicacid, which may help to decrease cancer risk by countering the harmful effects of cigarette smoke, processed foods and barbequed meats. Red and purple grapes are loaded with resveratrol, which decreases heart disease and stroke risk. Also choose beets, blood oranges, grapefruit, radishes, red onions, peppers, and watermelon.
YELLOW/ORANGE. These fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamin A, which supports healthy vision. The citrus family is loaded with vitamin C, which can help fight infection. They also are high in folate, which is especially important for women of child-bearing age to prevent birth defects. Choose apricots, squash, cantaloupe, carrots, grapefruit, lemons, mangoes, nectarines, oranges, tangerines, peppers, papayas, peaches, persimmons, pineapple, pumpkin, rutabaga, corn, sweet potatoes and yellow apples.
GREEN: Green vegetables are nutrient powerhouses. The dark green, leafy vegetables like spinach and kale are high in folic acid, vitamin K, magnesium, calcium and iron. Bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage contain indoles, which are thought to be cancer fighters. Asparagus, spinach and broccoli contain glutathione, which helps to optimize immune function. Also choose artichokes, avocado, celery, collard greens, cucumbers, edamame, apples, green beans, grapes, pears, peppers, herbs, honeydew melon, kiwifruit, leafy greens, okra, peas, and zucchini.
BLUE/PURPLE/BLACK: These fruits and vegetables are thought to help protect against age-related memory loss, maintain heart health, prevent urinary tract infections and decrease risk of cancer. Blueberries have the highest concentration of phytochemicals. Also choose blackberries, black currants, black mulberries, boysenberries, eggplant, plums, purple asparagus, cabbage, purple carrots, purple-fleshed potatoes, grapes, peppers, prunes and raisins.
TAN/BROWN: While not very colorful, these fruits and vegetables do contain folic acid, fiber, potassium, selenium and vitamin C. Onions, apples and brown pears contain quercetin, a phytochemical known for its anticancer properties. Garlic and onion may help destroy cancer cells and decrease levels of circulating fat in the blood stream. Also choose bananas, cauliflower, dates, figs, ginger, jicama, kohlrabi, mushrooms, parsnips, shallots, turnips, white nectarines and white peaches.