By Neelam Jain Last Updated:
In simple terms, ‘rainbow diet’ means eating meals and fruits that represent the mix of colours like what we see in a rainbow. It is a diet which is stimulating and pleasing to the body as well as the palate. Differently coloured food maximises the intake of nutrients and improves your health and immunity in several ways. The mix of colours and the varieties on your plate not only looks fascinating but are also beneficial for your overall health.
Saying this, focussing on just one good food or one healthy fruit is not enough. Our body benefits from the varieties and the rainbow of nutrients and colours. Rainbow reminds us to eat a diversity of different coloured foods. By eating ‘rainbow’ you include apt vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals etc. in your daily meals which are known to have enormous healing powers. Here's how you can get the range of colourful foods your body needs to thrive and the ways you can eat the ‘rainbow’ right.
As we start with red, let’s quote the cliche, ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away.’ Well, this stands true for a large number of red fruits like watermelon, cherry, plum, strawberry and more. Apart from fruits, there are many red vegetables and food ingredients and each of it will bring something different to your table. Red fruits like strawberry are a rich source of folate that helps with heart health. Similarly, cherries which are high in fibre are good for your skin and are also rich in Vitamin C, which helps to maintain low blood pressure. Red chillies do a great deal in spicing up your meals. But, besides that, it is a powerful immunity booster too. Overall, red colour is a powerhouse of nutrients for your body and the natural red pigments found in food and fruits have preventive effects on chronic diseases.
Food rich in purple pigments are a great source of cardiac-friendly anthocyanin, which reduces the risk of cancer. For example, eggplant (brinjal) which is rich in folic acid and potassium, strengthens your muscular and circulatory systems. Purple cabbage, purple carrot, raisins and blackcurrants belong to the purple family. At times, blue, purple and black food gets combined and categorised in one category for their colour. Anthocyanins are anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic substance found in purple food which helps lowering the risk of diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases. Food with purple colour also contains, lutein, vitamin C and quercetin that benefit our immune system, overall health, and promote longevity.
True, it is not an attractive colour but can definitely find some space in your plate. So, here is why you need a big bite of white. White fruits and vegetables including pears, apples, bananas, cauliflower and garlic, are high in dietary fibre and are preventive against cholesterol. The white food contains antioxidant-rich flavonoids such as quercetin and health-promoting chemicals such as allicin, which help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. White food also reduces the risk of stomach cancer and heart disease. Banana, turnip, corn, mushroom, onion, potato, ginger are rich sources of potassium. While mushrooms are loaded with selenium, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin D, cauliflower contains sulphur compounds that are associated with fighting cancer, strengthening bone tissue, and maintaining healthy blood vessels.
It goes without saying that green food is a powerhouse of nutrients and is required by the body in large quantities. The green colour in plants comes from chlorophyll, the lifeline of plants. Go for green to get the right amount of Vitamins A, C and K, iron, antioxidants such as carotenoids and flavonoids. The other nutrients found in green veggies and food are chlorophyll, lutein, zeaxanthin and folate. Spinach, cabbage, bean, okra and broccoli are few of the members from the green family. The leafy green veggies contain lutein, which aids in preventing macular degeneration of the eye. Greens are full of folate, chlorophyll and iron, hence being perfect for those who need energy. Needless to say, green colour is good for eyes, bones and teeth and is extremely beneficial in boosting immunity. There is no dearth of options and varieties when it comes to eating green including salads and soups.
The colour of sky and water helps you with controlled blood pressure and maintain fit body. Fruits and veggies get the colour blue from an element named Anthocyanin that defends the body with antioxidants and keeps your mind sharp. So, now you know why to go for a grape family of fruits. Other nutrients named flavonoids, ellagic acid, quercetin and lutein found in blue food support retinal health, improve mineral absorption, lower LDL cholesterol and boost immune system activity. Blue pigments in food also reduce inflammation and help in reducing tumour growth.
It’s time to aim to eat more of oranges, pumpkins, mangoes and carrots, that symbolise strength and stability. Beta-carotene, which gives the food its vibrant colour, keeps the bones strong and eyes healthy. The phytochemical present in orange food helps maintaining healthy mucous membranes, reduces the risk of cancer and heart diseases, and also improves the function of our immune system. Besides these, orange food also fights free radicals in the body and lowers cholesterol. Orange vegetables also tend to contain other health-promoting nutrients such as potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, fibre, lycopene and flavonoids which help prevent diseases. Now, you know why you should have enough orange food in your diet.
The yellow colour is associated with sporty people and implies brightness, energy and freshness. Yellow food represents good mental health and boosts liver, skin and eyesight health. Saffron, yellow bell pepper and avocado reduce age-related tissue degeneration and the risk of prostate cancer too. The bright yellow fruits also lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and blood pressure. Yellow food is useful for strong bone marrow, muscular strength, healthy bones, shining skin and strong nerves. Include pineapple, turmeric, mustard, yellow bell peppers and corn in your diet to feel the magic of yellow. Turmeric has antiseptic and immunity building properties whereas Vitamin B complex in corn has digestive enzymes that improve digestion and maintain the health of lungs. Asthmatics are known to benefit from foods that are yellow.
Note: There are food and certain fruits which fall into one or more category of colours. Also, colourful packaged items and refined products will not count in a rainbow diet. To make it ‘rainbow’, you need at least three different types of food.
It’s time to blend the colours and make it look great too. Increasing the nutritional value of your food and having it all pretty and colourful on your table go hand in hand. We think eating beautiful is what leads to living 'beautiful'. What're your views?