Most people know that the key to good health is a nutrient-rich diet that includes quality proteins, good fat and plenty of fruits and vegetables. However, when it comes to fruits and vegetables, just eating a lot of them isn’t enough.
If you are eating a lot of plant foods, but find that your health goals remain elusive, the answer may lie in food diversity. To get all the nutrients your body needs, you should include a variety of plant foods in your diet. Many people tend to eat the same ones over and over.
Fortunately, adopting a more diverse diet isn’t as hard as you may think. It’s as simple as varying the color of the fruits and vegetables in your diet.
Eat the Rainbow
Eating the rainbow is a friendly way of thinking about and implementing greater food diversity. A fruit or vegetable’s color indicates the nutrients it is rich in. By broadening the spectrum of color in your food choices, you will effortlessly be increasing the amount and diversity of the nutrients you are taking in.
Getting nutrients through your diet is always the preferred method of ingesting them, however; if food intolerances or strong preferences keep you from certain foods, you may be able to support your efforts through the use of quality supplements. For instance, those who want to boost their antioxidants might consider a good coq10 supplement, or those who can’t ingest citrus may want to support their diet with Vitamin C.
A Color Primer
Plant foods fall into one of 5 color categories, each with its own nutritional benefits:
- Red – Common foods in the red group include tomatoes, watermelon, beets or red apples. These foods are loaded with Vitamin A, potassium and folate.
- Orange/Yellow – These foods get their vibrant color from beta carotene and are a great source of fiber. Enjoy choices such as carrots, squashes, sweet potatoes or corn.
- Blue/Purple – This group includes many delicious berries and grapes, but also vegetables like eggplant. These foods provide many essential vitamins including B6, C and K1.
- Green – Leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and cabbage are included here as well as crucifers like broccoli. These foods are high in chlorophyll and they contain magnesium, potassium and iron.
- White/Brown – These foods are rich in phytonutrients including many common aromatics such as garlic and onion as well as mushrooms, cauliflower and potatoes.
3 Tips To Help You Diversify
Here are a few easy ways to get a greater variety of plant foods into your diet.
In the summer, a great salad is a perfect way to consume several different vegetables or fruits in a single meal. Think outside the box with your salads, or get a cookbook focused on them. Consider using greens like spinach, kale or romaine for a base. You can add proteins through lean meats or by including beans or legumes. Along with a dressing that contains good fats such as olive oil or avocado oil, a salad can easily be a full meal.
Sheet Pan Meals
Many dense vegetables like potatoes, crucifers and beets, benefit from roasting. It brings out their earthy sweetness and they smell incredible while cooking. Sheet pan meals are not only nutritious, they are quick, simple and nutritious meals that can typically be completed in about 30 minutes. A drizzle of oil and a sprinkle of some fresh herbs is all you need to fill your plate with healthy and nutritious goodness.
There is nothing like a bowl of warm soup in the winter months to satisfy your hunger. Soups are nutritious workhorses. Especially if you aren’t keen on many vegetables, soup is a wonderful way to include more plant food in your diet. The cooking process and addition of savory herbs and spices can mask the individual vegetables and create a blend of flavors that makes eating healthily easy and delicious.
You don’t need to get a degree in nutrition to ensure that you are getting the nutrient-dense diet you need. Simply make it a point to diversify the color of the plant foods that you include in your meals regularly.