Colorful fruits and vegetables provide a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals your body needs to maintain good health and energy levels. Each color range provides your body with different nutrients, so it is important to eat a rainbow of color! Here are 6 major colors and example foods:
Red foods are packed with lots of vitamins and minerals like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Potassium. Red foods also contain compounds called Phytochemicals, which have been shown to have positive health benefits. Phytochemicals you might have heard about include flavonoids, lycopene, reservatol and capsaicin.
Healthy red fruits & vegetables:
- Strawberries: Strawberries are loaded with vitamin C, potassium, and folate. Strawberries are best fresh. For a special 4th of July breakfast treat – make a red, white & blue yogurt parfait with vanilla yogurt, sliced strawberries and blueberries. (Food Guide: Strawberries)
- Tomatoes: Tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, potassium and Vitamin C. They taste great fresh off the vine and cooked in sauces, stews and soups. Try chopped tomatoes or fresh salsa with scrambled eggs. A plate sliced tomatoes are a fantastic summer BBQ side dish –sprinkle with sea salt and ground pepper then drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
- Red Peppers: A bright red pepper contains potassium, Vitamin A and Vitamin C. Red Peppers can be served raw as a snack or in salads, cooked in pasta and stir-fry dishes, roasted in soups and stews, or skewered and grilled with other summer vegetables.
- Watermelon: You know its summer time when you see watermelons. Watermelons are packed with Vitamin A, Vitamin C and lycopene. A big slice of fresh watermelon is sure to put a smile on your little one’s face at the family picnic! (Food Guide: Watermelon)
- Red Beets: Red beets contain iron, niacin and potassium. Start introducing red beets to kids in salads or roasted with olive oil and ground pepper. Pickled red beets are also a good introduction and are terrific in a tossed green salad.
- Red Grapes: Red Grapes contain flavonoids, reservatol and quercitin to help keep your heart healthy and strong. Grapes are a great snack. Freeze them for a hot summertime treat.
- Cherries: Cherries are considered a nutritional super food because they are loaded with antioxidants and vitamins and, they taste great! Remove the pits to make it easier for little ones to enjoy this delicious treat.
Brightly colored orange foods are good for eyes, skin, immune system and heart. Orange foods contain high amounts of Carotenoids; these compounds help provide Vitamin A, or retinol, to the body. Vitamin A helps us see at night, keeps our immune system strong and keeps our skin cells healthy. Orange foods are also loaded with Vitamin C. The color orange can also improve your mood and reenergize you. Be sure to brighten up your meals by eating at least one orange food a day.
Healthy orange fruits & vegetables:
- Pumpkins: Don’t wait until Thanksgiving to include this excellent food in your family’s meals. Add vitamin and antioxidant packed pumpkin puree to pancakes, burritos, and bread or muffin recipes. Pumpkin also makes great soup. (Food Guide: Pumpkin)
- Peaches & Nectarines: In addition to Vitamins A and C and Carotenoids, peaches and nectarines are a good source of dietary fiber. Slice a peach in half and grill for a juicy and delicious side dish.(Food Guide: Peaches)
- Cantaloupe: This orange delight is chockfull of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. Dice cantaloupe in fruit salads and vegetable salads. This gem also makes a very nice edible garnish. (Food Guide: Cantaloupe)
- Oranges: Some say you can taste the sunshine in a glass of orange juice. Eating oranges and drinking orange juice supplies your body with a great dose of Vitamin C for healthy skin and a strong immune system. Oranges also contain folic acid for healthy development. (Food Guide: Oranges)
- Carrots: This sweet and crunchy super food helps to keep your eyes healthy, your skin radiant and your body cancer-free. Carrots make a great raw snack. Steamed carrots make a delicious, sweet side dish.
- Orange Peppers: Like their red and yellow cousins, orange peppers add great flavor and good nutrition to meals and snacks. Serve orange peppers raw as a snack, in salads, sautéed in pasta, stir-fried, or roasted in soups and stews.
- Papaya: Nutritious and delicious papaya is loaded with Vitamin C, potassium, and beta-carotene. Add papaya to salads, smoothies and salsas. Or, use papaya as an edible garnish for chicken and seafood dishes. (Food Guide: Papaya)
- Sweet Potatoes: Eat Sweet potatoes on a regular basis, not just at Thanksgiving. Fiber and Vitamin A rich sweet potatoes taste great grilled, baked, mashed, roasted or boiled. For added nutrition, add mashed sweet potato to bread and muffin recipes.
Yellow fruits and vegetables come in a range of textures and flavors and contain a variety of beneficial vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants. Yellow is a great color – it’s the color of sunshine and sunshine energizes us. Next time you are at the market, ask your child to choose a sunny yellow fruit or vegetable, so they can enjoy the delicious energetic benefits of yellow foods.
Healthy yellow fruits & vegetables:
- Bananas: This fun and easy to eat fruit contains potassium, vitamins A, B-6, B-12, and C. Bananas provide a quick energy boost for hungry kids of all ages. Keep bananas on the counter for healthy after school snacking. Bananas are great added to smoothies, cereal, yogurt, pancakes, or baked goods.
- Pineapples: Juicy, sweet pineapples provide the body with Bromelain, Vitamin A and C, and manganese. Bromelain is a natural anti-inflammatory that helps relieve swelling caused by injury or illness. Serve pineapples fresh, grilled, or add to sauces and salsas. (Food Guide: Pineapple)
- Yellow Peppers: Yellow peppers are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamins A, C, and B6, niacin, magnesium, copper, folate, potassium and manganese. Add yellow peppers to pasta, stir-fry, and salads. Slice yellow peppers and serve with a side of salad dressing for a crunchy, sweet snack.
- Yellow Squash: Yellow squash contains vitamin C, Iron, folate, beta-carotene, and lutein. Slice yellow squash and sauté with olive oil for a nutritious side dish, or add to casseroles for extra goodness.
- Corn: Nothing says summer like fresh corn, and watching a young child eat corn on the cob can be a memorable experience! Corn provides the body with beneficial anti-oxidants to help prevent disease and fiber for healthy digestion. Steam, boil or grill corn on the cob, or cut the kernels from the cob and serve as a side dish, or add it to soups, stews, salads and casseroles.
- Lemons: Lemons are a good source of vitamin C. Plus, they are a cleansing food. Squeezing a slice of lemon into a glass of water each day can aid digestion problems and remove impurities from the body. Adding a little slice of lemon to your kid’s water can be a great way to get them to drink more water. You can also squeeze fresh lemon juice over vegetables, poultry and fish.
- Yellow Pears: Loaded with vitamins, minerals, and cancer preventing anti-oxidants, pears are a healthy and delicious choice for snacks and side dishes. Pears also have a low glycemic index, which means they can help control blood sugar levels. Pears provide the body with vitamins A, C, B1, B2, and E, folate, potassium, iron, and fiber. Slice pears and serve alone, or add to salads and smoothies. (Food Guide: Pears)
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends Americans consume 3 cups of leafy greens weekly or about ½ cup each day. Leafy greens are packed with nutrients including Vitamins A, C and K; folate, calcium and iron while also providing a good source of fiber.
Healthy green vegetables:
- Arugula: Packing a punch of peppery flavor, arugula has long, spiked leaves and is a great source of calcium and magnesium.
- Bok Choy: This mild, cabbage-flavored leaf is a good source of vitamins A and C. It’s great in salads and is often found in stir-fries.
- Broccoli: There’s more to this bunch that just the florets, the crunchy stalks and lettuce like leaves are delicious too and together provide the body with vitamins A, C, K, folate and fiber. (Food Guide: Broccoli)
- Collard Greens: Mild in flavor and a staple in Southern cooking, these large leaves are often boiled or found in soups.
- Kale: An increasing popular green, kale’s slightly bitter flavor has not deterred its inclusion in everything from soup to smoothies.
- Spinach: The second most popular green in the US, spinach is very mild in flavor and can easily be added to any dish for a boost in vitamins A and K, folate, iron and calcium. (Food Guide: Spinach)
Getting More Greens in Your Family’s Diet
Smoothies: Smoothies are an excellent way to increase the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, including leafy greens. Try adding ½ cup of spinach or kale to this basic smoothie recipe.
Blending tip: Blend the juice and greens first before adding the other ingredients for a smoother texture
Blue foods are a great source of cancer preventing anti-oxidants and phytonutrients. The main phytonutrient, anthocyanidin, helps to decrease inflammation in the body’s cells and may protect against heart disease. Blue foods also contain minerals including copper and iron, vitamins C, K, B-6, B-12, and fiber. Purple and black fruits and vegetables are also members of the blue food group.
Healthy blue fruits & vegetables:
- Blueberries: Considered one of nature’s best “super foods”, blueberries give your body and brain a healthy dose of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants. Be sure to include these delicious berries in your breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. Blueberries freeze well and are great added to smoothies, baked goods and jams. (Food Guide: Blueberries)
- Purple Potatoes: Blue potatoes provide carotenoids and flavonoids anti-oxidants, which can prevent cancer. Add color to your potato and vegetable dishes by using blue potatoes instead of white ones in recipes. (Food Guide: Potatoes)
- Blackberries: A tasty way to add fiber and vitamin C to your diet, blackberries are delicious in salads, sauces and backed goods. Pick blackberries in season and freeze for an off-season treat.
- Eggplant: Purple skinned eggplant adds fiber and flavor to meals. Cut eggplant in circles, brush olive oil, sprinkle with salt, then grill the circles. Grilled eggplant makes a nice side dish that is loaded with fiber and anti-oxidants.
- Purple Cabbage: Purple cabbage supplies the body with fiber, potassium and Vitamin C. Toss shredded cabbage into green salads or make crunchy coleslaw for your summer picnic table.
- Plums & Prunes: Plums and prunes (dried plums) are loaded with anti-oxidants and vitamins that help keep eyes, skin and organs healthy. Plums and prunes make a nutritious, low calorie snack on their own, or combine them with yogurt and cereal for a nutritious meal.
White fruits and vegetables contain anti-oxidants that can help prevent heart disease and stroke, vitamin C for skin, hair and joints, vitamin K and folate, and fiber to keep your digestive system healthy. White foods can also help remove toxins from the body so your cells work properly and your body stays healthy.
Healthy white fruits & vegetables:
- Cauliflower: Cauliflower supplies your body with vitamins C, K, folate and dietary fiber. Research also shows that cauliflower can help decrease inflammation in the body. Serve raw cauliflower as a crunchy, healthy appetizer or snack. You can also grill, roast, steam, or sauté cauliflower. (Food Guide: Cauliflower)
- White corn: Corn provides the body with beneficial anti-oxidants to help prevent disease and plenty of fiber for healthy digestion. Steam, boil or grill corn on the cob, or cut the kernels from the cob and add to side dishes, soups, stews, salads and casseroles.
- Onions & Garlic: Both onions and garlic contain quercetin, which helps to keep your heart healthy and strong. Add chopped onion and minced garlic to side dishes for extra flavor and a healthy heart.
- Parsnips: Parsnips are a good source of folate and B vitamins, which help prevent birth defects and lower your risk of heart disease. Parsnips can be used instead of carrots in recipes or try and 50/50 mix of each vegetable. Boil a 50/50 mixture of parsnips and white potatoes to make delicious mashed potatoes. .
- Mushrooms: This yummy little fungi is high in potassium, selenium, vitamin D, and rich in flavor. There is a wide variety of mushrooms available including button, cremini, Oyster and Portabella. Serve sliced mushrooms in a green salad. Try grilling portobello mushrooms and brush with Italian dressing just before serving. (Food Guide: Mushrooms)
- Potatoes: Potassium packed potatoes helps lower blood pressure and keeps your heart strong. They also contain Vitamin C and fiber to keep your skin and digestive tract healthy. Partially boil potatoes and finish them on the grill for a great addition to your summer BBQ. (Food Guide: Potatoes)
- White Peaches: White peaches are a great source of vitamin C and fiber and help keep your skin and digestive tract healthy. Peaches also contain potassium, fluoride, and iron for strong bones and healthy blood cells. Delicious and sweet, peaches make an excellent addition to summertime salads, or baked goods. Peaches are also wonderful as a snack or side dish. (Food Guide: Peaches)
- Pears: Loaded with vitamins, minerals, and cancer preventing anti-oxidants, pears are a healthy and delicious food choice. Pears provide the body with vitamins A, C, B1, B2, and E, folate, potassium, iron, and fiber. Pears also have a low glycemic index, which means they can help regulate blood sugar levels. Slice pears and serve alone, or add to salads and smoothies. (Food Guide: Pears)