We all remember the Skittles slogan "taste the rainbow" and while we're not saying they're correct in using it to promote sugary candy, they are on the right track when it comes to consuming multiple colours.
Adding multiple colours to your meals will help you live a longer, healthier life because it optimizes your phytonutrient intake. Phytonutrients are compounds that give plants their colours, scents, and flavours, and strengthen the plants immune systems to protect against threats in their environment.
When humans consume plant based foods, they absorb the phytonutrients which protect us from chronic disease such as; heart disease and cancer.
Each individual colour provides its own unique health benefits and no one colour is superior to another, so getting a balance of all colours is key in optimizing your health and your body's ability to fight disease. Getting the most phytonutrients also means eating the colourful skins of fruits and veggies, which actually contain the the highest sources of the phytonutrients, along with the flesh which is usually paler and contains a less concentrated amount. If you can, try to avoid peeling foods like apples, peaches, etc. to maintain all the beneficial phytonutrients that the skin contains!
Let's break down the different colours
Red: Rich in the carotenoid lycopene, helps to destroy free radicals, and has been shown to protect against prostate cancer as well as heart and lung disease.
Found in: strawberries, cranberries, raspberries, tomatoes, cherries, apples, beets, watermelon, red grapes, red peppers, red onions.
Orange and yellow: Provides beta cryptothanxin, which helps to support intracellular communication and has been shown to help prevent heart disease.
Found in: carrots, sweet potatoes, yellow peppers, oranges, bananas, pineapple, tangerines, mango, pumpkin, apricots, butternut squash, peaches, cantaloupe, corn, etc.
Green: Rich in cancer blocking chemicals like sulforaphane, isocyanate, and indoles, which inhibit the action of the cancer causing compounds, carcinogens.
Found in: spinach, avocados, asparagus, artichokes, broccoli, alfalfa sprouts, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kiwi fruit, collard greens, green tea, green herbs.
Blue and purple: Contain powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins shown to delay cellular aging and block the formation of blood clots.
Found in: blueberries, blackberries, elderberries, grapes, raisins, eggplant, plums, figs, prunes, lavender, purple cabbage.
White and brown: Onions contains allicin, which has been shown to have anti-tumor properties.
Found in: onions, cauliflower, garlic, leeks, parsnips, daikon radish, mushrooms.
The goal should be to consume anywhere from 3 1/2 - 5 cups of colourful fruits and veggies every single day and to switch up your selection every single week to make sure you're getting a wide variety of different nutrients in. It's so easy to get stuck eating the same thing week after week out of convenience and taste but it's actually extremely important to our health that we are rotating our fruit and veggie selections every week, and eating seasonally as much as possible!