Do you eat an apple a day? While that is certainly good for you, experts say “no single fruit or vegetable provides all of the nutrients you need to be healthy.” Harvard School of Public Health says eating a variety of produce rich in natural colors of the rainbow has many health benefits, such as lower blood pressure, reduced risk of heart attack and stroke, lower risk of some cancers, fewer digestive problems, and better blood sugar regulation. So, which fruits and vegetables are the best? The American Heart Association simply states, “they’re all good!” If you eat with variety in color, you will get all the necessary nutrients needed for healthier living.
Quantity and Quality
The AHA also reminds us that quantity is just as important as quality. They recommend eight servings of fruits and vegetables per day in order to eat enough nutrients from the rainbow of choices. That boils down to 4 ½ cups of produce per day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention created this visual,itemized list to help determine what a cup of fruits or vegetables really looks like.
Try to eat all colors of the rainbow each day:
- Eat red: Tomatoes, watermelon, strawberries, raspberries, red grapes, pomegranates, cranberries, and red apples. Count in tomato sauce and tomato juice but choose no added salt or low sodium versions
- Eat orange/yellow: Carrots, pumpkin, butternut or acorn squash, mango, apricots, cantaloupe, oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, lemons, peaches, papaya, pineapple, nectarines, and yellow apples
- Eat green: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green cabbage, bok choy, avocado, spinach, kale, green beans, green peppers, kiwi, collard greens, mustard greens, and green grapes
- Eat blue/purple: Blueberries, blackberries, purple grapes, plums, prunes, purple figs, raisins, and eggplant
- Eat white: Garlic, mushrooms, onion, chives, cauliflower, bananas
If you find your child needs a bit of encouragement when it comes to eating fruits and vegetables, try out these hints from Whole Kids Foundation:
- Draw a rainbow on a sheet of paper and bring it to dinner. Give your child crayons or colored pencils in order to draw in all the colorful foods they can find in their meal.
- Serve a weekly “rainbow dinner.” Try to have every color represented and challenge your child to find them all.
- Have your child be responsible for the shopping list in the produce section. Instruct them to pick out fruits and vegetables that will cover all colors of the rainbow.
To read more ideas on how to get children to eat more of the rainbow, click HERE.
For more fruit and vegetable information, visit ChooseMyPlate.gov.