"Eating a rainbow" is a popular technique for making nutrition fun for children. Kids are encouraged to eat a wide variety of colorful foods like red watermelon, orange carrots, yellow peppers, green beans, blueberries, and purple grapes — a rainbow of colors. The technique works for adults, too. Thinking of food in terms of a rainbow of colors is not only appealing, but it also provides a visual aid for our nutrition. Optimal nutrition brings optimal health, which is a prize that lasts longer than the fabled pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
The many colors of plant foods are an expression of the unique nutritional profile each plant offers. While all whole plant foods contain many different vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, the color of plant foods tells us something about each plant's "specialty."
The video below gives us a color key to unlock the mystery of plant pigmentation. What nutrient do red plant foods have a lot of? Are white plant foods lacking in nutrition?
Eating a rainbow of colors is a practical way to make sure we're getting a good variety nutrients. People who adopt a Starch-Smart® diet quite naturally begin enjoying a colorful plate of whole plant foods at every meal.
I encourage all of my patients to eat a colorful, low-fat plate of food including "Beans, Greens, Squash, and Yams" at least twice a day. In addition to energy-sustaining starch, beans supply lots of B vitamins, iron, and other minerals. Greens are great food for our cardiovascular system because they specialize in nitrates which help open up our arteries. Many greens are also members of the cancer-fighting cruciferous family. The word "squash" in the Starch-Smart® formula stands for any other type of vegetable that appeals to you. This is the category where we can each choose colorful plant foods that bring new nutrients to our plates. And "yams" means starchy vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, taro root, or cassava, each of which offers low-calorie, hunger-satisfying starch in addition to its unique profile of vitamins and minerals.
Starch-Smarter and Starch-Smartest followers also enjoy the rainbow of nutrition found in fruits because one meal each day features fruits and intact whole grains. Colorful fruits are an abundant source of many phytonutrients, in addition to lots of vitamin C and other vitamins and minerals.
While eating a rainbow every day might be challenging — especially for those who are shopping and cooking for one rather than for a large family, eating a rainbow of colors over the course of a week is often more realistic. A variety of colorful plant foods spread over a week still offers sufficient nutrition for optimal health.
However we think of it — eating a rainbow, eating Starch-Smart®, or simply eating a whole-food, plant-based diet — when our nutrition comes from a variety of colorful, low-fat, whole plant foods, we can be certain that we are getting excellent nutrition. Plants contain all the nutrients we need for optimal health and healing, which is the real treasure at the end of a fruit-and-veggie rainbow.
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