Drink the Rainbow: Get the Nutrients that You Need

By Pat Crocker

The message is clear: For a healthy body, eat a whole-food diet that consists of fresh organic fruits, vegetables, lentils, legumes, herbs, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and small amounts of meat and low-fat dairy products. Using fresh, organic vegetables and fruits in juices and smoothies helps to increase the number of servings of fresh fruits and vegetables in your daily diet.

The Greek physician Hippocrates (460 b.c.–c. 370 b.c.) said, “Let your food be your medicine.” But that was centuries ago. How can you let your food be your medicine today? The U.S. Surgeon General, Canada’s Food Guide, the United Kingdom Food Standards Agency, the Australian Government’s Department of Health and Aging, and the National Cancer Institute all agree:

Eating more fruits and vegetables will reduce the risk of cancer and other modern diseases.

Science shows that fruits and vegetables contain all the vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and other phytonutrients that help prevent cancer, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, and stroke. Science has now proven what Hippocrates claimed: What you eat becomes your body and what you drink becomes your blood; your food is your medicine.

Finding it hard to cut out the bad foods you’ve come to eat without thinking? Try squeezing them out. Snack on fresh fruits and vegetables (or drinks made from them) and nuts and seeds. Fill at least half of your mealtime plate with more fruits, vegetables, and legumes, and let whole grains, organic meats, nuts, seeds, and milk products fill the other half. You shouldn’t have room for anything else.

The best way to make sure you’re getting the vitamins and minerals you need is by drinking the rainbow. Fruits and vegetables come in a rainbow of colors — red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet — and it’s easy to get optimum nutrients from the food you eat by including one or more foods in each color every day. Here are examples of places where you can get all the colors of the rainbow:

  • Red: Beets, cherries, cranberries, pink grapefruit, pomegranates, raspberries, red cabbage, red grapes, red peppers, red potatoes, rhubarb, strawberries, tomatoes, watermelon

  • Orange: Apricots, cantaloupe, carrots, mangoes, nectarines, orange peppers, papayas, persimmons, pumpkins, squash, sweet potatoes

  • Yellow: Citrus fruit, corn, grapefruit, peaches, pears, pineapple, rutabaga, yellow peppers, yellow summer squash, yellow tomatoes, yellow watermelon

  • Green: Asparagus, avocadoes, beet greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, cucumbers, green beans, green cabbage, green grapes, green peppers, honeydew melon, kale, kiwi, limes, mustard greens, peas, spinach, Swiss chard, turnip greens, zucchini

  • Blue: Blueberries, concord grapes

  • Indigo: Blackberries, dates, elderberries, figs, plums, prunes, raisins

  • Violet: Eggplant, plums, purple grapes

  • White: Bananas, cauliflower, garlic, ginger, jicama, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, potatoes, turnips