Eat the Rainbow — Dine with Roy G. Biv!

By: Diana W. Wright, PhD, RD
Long ago, my 8th grade science teacher Mrs. Sundstrom introduced me to Roy G. Biv whose job was to help me learn the order of colors in the rainbow; Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Indigo Violet. Today we put Mr. Biv to work as a simple tool to assist us in selecting a healthy diet. The whole foods with the most intense array of colors of the rainbow provide us with a powerful combination of health promoting substances known as phytochemicals. These substances are found only in plant foods and are best provided by whole, minimally processed food sources. So those of you who are hoping you can get the full benefit of these healthy chemicals from a pill are guilty of naiveté and wishful thinking. (Sorry, but it ain’t gonna happen!) No matter what it says on the supplement label, processing generally depletes, not enhances the nutrient content of a food. Processing typically requires heat, light, high pressure, oxygen exposure and more…. all of which are enemies of phytochemicals. So your best bet is to grab a carrot as you head out the door, munch on a tomato while you are deciding what to make for lunch or give your ice cream dessert some redeeming qualities by topping it off with a handful of blueberries.
Make your own list of colorful ways to enrich your diet or just check out the list below for some ideas. Get your kids involved. Their thoughts may tip you off to some new foods they are willing to try. Warning…..keep their choices focused on unprocessed, whole foods as we don’t want to see the list topped with colorful candies, sodas and neon bright cereals!

Red, Orange, Yellow: Red pepper, radish, tomato, mango, carrot, orange, pumpkin, strawberries…
Green: Chard, kale, collards, broccoli, romaine, kiwi, grapes, avocado…
Blue, Indigo, Violet: Blueberries, eggplant, beets, grapes, raspberries, blackberries, blue potatoes…
So next time you shop, think of Roy G. Biv and the message of good nutrition he brings to your table!

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