Eat the Rainbow!

Huong Fralin's picture
By Huong Fralin on February 26, 2020

You’ve probably heard of the five main food groups, but when it comes to eating healthy, have you also taken in to account the five main color groups?

The best way to get vitamins, minerals and nutrients in your diet is to eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. They contain many of the vitamins and antioxidants that we need, and with few calories.

“Your body prefers to get its nutrients from whole foods instead of pills,” says Christina Thomas, registered dietitian at Carilion Giles Community Hospital. “Vitamins and supplements can be helpful, but sometimes those aren’t absorbed entirely.”

In addition to maintaining good health, eating a variety of fruits and vegetables can also help you maintain a healthy weight, keep your heart healthy and help with cancer prevention.

Colorful Options
Not a fan of salad? You don’t have to eat a bowl of greens to get your full serving of vegetables. Try these options instead:

  • Opt for a piece of fresh fruit instead of a cup of juice in the morning—you’ll get more fiber and less sugar
  • Add chopped vegetables such as onions, celery, bell peppers or spinach to your eggs or potatoes for breakfast
  • Eat a bowl of vegetable soup
  • Add cucumber, sprouts, tomato, lettuce or avocado to your sandwiches
  • Snack on raw veggies or fresh or dried fruit
  • Incorporate steamed, grilled or roasted vegetables as a side with your dinner

“It just takes a little bit of prep work and planning to get you in the habit of eating healthy and losing weight,” adds Christina. “And if you’re on the go, there are healthy options at fast-food restaurants, too. It’s all about educating yourself.”

Whole foods are best, but canned and frozen fruits and vegetables also count!

The American Heart Association recommends four to five servings of both fruits and vegetables per day. Whole foods are best, but canned and frozen fruits and vegetables also count! Just be sure to check food labels and choose items with the lowest amounts of sodium and added sugars. Check out the list below for some colorful choices. 

Reds and Pinks

  • Apples
  • Bell peppers
  • Grapefruit
  • Grapes
  • Pomegranates
  • Rhubarb
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes

Blues and Purples

  • Beets
  • Bell peppers
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Eggplant
  • Turnips

Oranges and Yellows

  • Apricots
  • Bananas
  • Bell peppers
  • Corn
  • Lemons
  • Oranges
  • Peaches
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Winter squash

Greens

  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Bell peppers
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cucumbers
  • Green beans
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Summer squash

Whites and Browns

  • Beans
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Coleslaw
  • Garlic
  • Mushrooms
  • Parsnips
  • Pears
  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Sauerkraut

Want to learn more about healthy eating? Join Bert Herald, registered dietitian for Carilion Clinic, on March 26 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. for a Weight Loss and Healthy Food Preparation class. It will be focused on heart-healthy nutrition with less sodium and it includes a healthy meal prepared by Carilion Clinic's executive chef, Sam Lazarro.

Keep an eye on our community calendar for hands-on classes and other events!