You read about it in the paper, hear it on the radio, see it on TV and now we are here to remind you of it as well: eat five colors a day. And that’s five colors a day from fresh fruits and vegetables you’ve prepared yourself. While you’re at it fill at least half your plate with those five colors, fruits and vegetables, leaving the remaining half for your protein and starches (including potatoes).
So, if everyone is talking about it (including us) why is it so important to eat five colors a day? There are both scientific and practical reasons for this good advice. The scientific reasons are simple: different colored fruits and vegetables (a.k.a FaVes as my friend in NZ calls them) have different nutrients such as fiber, folate, potassium, vitamins A and C that together are needed for your body to stay healthy. Here’s a basic list, and while you may not know all of these nutrients, you can bet your body does!
- Red FaVes may contain nutrients such as lycopenes and vitamin A. Click here for a complete list.
- Orange and yellow FaVes may contain beta-carotene, flavonoids, potassium and vitamin C, just to name a few. Click here for a complete list.
- Green FaVes may contain chlorophyll, fiber, calcium folate and lutein. Click here for complete list. Click here for a complete list.
- Blue and purple FaVes may contain vitamin C, zeaxanthin, flavonoids, ellagic acid and quercetin. Click here for a complete list.
- White FaVes may contain vitamin C, folate, allicin and mineral potassium. Click here for a complete list.
As it turns out, the practical reasons are simple as well. We are creatures of habit, and as sometimes too-busy-to-think-about-it chefs of the house, many of us revert to the same vegetables over and over. It’s just easier to serve a dish you know by heart. To break this cycle, we use the five colors a day rule to bring variety to our meals, creativity to our cooking, and adventure to our families. In fact, our children would stay away from trying anything new, if we didn’t always give them something colorful to try.
One easy way to put the five colors a day rule into practice is by joining a CSA delivery (community supported agriculture) in your neighborhood. These services deliver fresh local produce, directly from farm to table, across the country. And don’t you know that a weekly box of FaVes frequently sports five colors, or more. Find your local CSA here.
To stay healthy, think five colors. Put aside the potatoes and iceberg lettuce, and dig deeper into the rainbow of your favorite FaVes to get some eye candy on the plate!