One of the healthiest things you can do is EAT THE RAINBOW!!…and no, I don’t mean grab a handful of Skittles. I mean eat a variety of fruits and vegetables in varying colors. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Produce for Better Health Foundation recommend nine servings of fruit and vegetables a day for active women. One serving equals approximately half a cup, so that equates to about 4 and a half cups of fruits and veggies a day. And the more colors you have on that plate the better!
“Each shade represents the phytonutrients plants make to protect themselves from sunlight, disease, soil problems, and extreme temperatures. ‘Plants can’t put on a hat or wear sunscreen, so in order to survive, they create chemicals with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects,’ explains James A. Joseph, PhD, chief of the neuroscience lab at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston. “When we eat produce, these substances are passed to us.” (via Fitness Magazine’s “Color Your Diet Healthy with Fruits and Vegetables“)
The general consensus is you should strive to eat at least five colors a day. Some sources even say six or seven! The list of fruit and veggie options within each color is extensive. I’m not going to list them all here, but below are just a few of my everyday favorites that I keep on hand:
- lettuces of varying types
- summer squash
- yellow or orange bell peppers
- sweet potatoes
- purple cabbage
If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “NINE servings??” Yes, it sounds like a lot, but through just a little bit of planning and some smart food choices you can hit that recommended serving goal easily.
In Part 2 I’ll talk about some easy and fun ways to eat your colors and get in those servings of fruits and veggies.