Dr. Noe’s 10 Steps to Optimal Health
Step 3: Eat a Rainbow Each Day
(At least 8-10 servings of fruits or vegetables in a variety of colors)
The widely varied colors of fruits and vegetables supply the body with a wide variety of nutrients. Different colors tend to be produced by different nutrients. Many of the reds, yellows, and oranges, for example, are produced by carotenoids (which are related to beta-carotene). Many of the blues and purples, on the other hand, are produced by compounds known as anthocyanidins, which are particularly beneficial to the retina of the eye. By eating a wide variety of colors including all the colors of the rainbow, you get a wide variety of these key nutrients. A good mnemonic to remember the colors is Roy G Biv: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet. Below are examples of some of these key nutrients, what they do for the body, and the
foods they are found in.
- Lutein: May reduce the risk of cataracts and other eye diseases including macular degeneration and retinopathy. Found in oranges, squash, corn, kiwi, and green vegetables.
- Lycopene: May reduce the risk of prostate and other cancers, elevated cholesterol, heart disease, and macular degeneration. Found in tomatoes and watermelon.
- Indole-3-carbinol, diindolylmethane (DIM), and sulforaphanes: May reduce the risk of cancer, particularly breast cancer. Found in green brassicas such as broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, kale, and collards.
- Anthocyanidins: May reduce the risk of gout, cataracts and other eye diseases including macular degeneration and retinopathy. Found in blueberries, blackberries, cherries, and red grapes.
In addition to eating a variety of colors, it is also important to eat enough fruits and vegetables. While the USDA (producers of the food pyramid guide to eating) recommends “5 A Day” of fruits and vegetables, this should really be considered a bare minimum. The National Academy of Sciences recommends 9 servings a day. Studies that examine fruit and vegetable intake almost always determine that people who eat 8-10 servings of fruits and vegetables are at lower risk for most chronic diseases including diabetes, heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, obesity, and many cancers.
Most Americans, on the other hand, don’t even come close to getting the minimum of “5 A Day.” Only 26% of Americans even get 3 servings a day, and that is only if you include the slice of tomato and piece of iceberg lettuce on a hamburger.
While 8-10 servings may sound like a lot, it doesn’t have to be when you look at the definition of the serving size:
- Vegetables: 1 serving = 1 cup of lettuce or other greens, or ½ cup of cooked or chopped vegetable
- Fruits: 1 serving = 1 medium piece of fruit, ½ cup chopped, ¾ cup pure fruit juice, or ¼ cup dried fruit
Here is an example of what a typical 10-serving day might look like:
- Breakfast: Whole grain cereal (without added sugar), milk, ¼ cup raisins, ¾ cup fruit juice (2 fruits)
- Lunch: 2 cups chili and a piece of fruit (2 vegetables and 1 fruit)
- Afternoon snack: 1 piece fruit or ½ cup baby carrots in hummus or salad dressing (1 fruit or vegetable)
- Dinner: Salad with 2 cups lettuce and ½ cupped chopped vegetable (3 vegetables), whole grain pasta or rice, and meat, fish or poultry.
- Dessert: ½ cup fresh or frozen berries with ½ cup plain yogurt (1 fruit)
For recipes, menu ideas, newsletters, shopping tips, and other tools, try the free online resource www.FruitsAndVeggiesMoreMatters.org and start eating a rainbow today!
Naturopathic doctors are physician experts in treating the underlying cause of disease and using natural medicines to help people get and stay well. To see a naturopathic doctor for help in determining whether your health problems are related to diet, and for comprehensive help and guidance in how to make changes in your dietary habits, please make a selection below.