Eat the Rainbow

Excerpted with permission from True Food: Eight Simple Steps to a Healthier You, National Geographic Books, 2009.

Eating the rainbow - or fruits and vegetables of many different colors - improves your health and, according to the USDA, "reduces your chances of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and other scourges of the modern industrialized diet."

Red means rich in lycopene, an antioxidant proving to be a powerhouse against cancer. These foods include strawberries, tomatoes, apples, cherries, red grapes, raspberries, watermelons, red peppers.

Orange means rich in beta-carotene, which converts to Vitamin A, good for the eyes. These foods include carrots, orange peppers, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, yams.

Yellow means rich in carotenoids and lutein, helpful for the eyes and in the prevention of cancer. These foods include cantaloupes, corn, summer squash, yellow beans, grapefruit, lemons, oranges, nectarines, papayas.

Green means rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants helpful for the eyes, bones, and teeth, with anticancer properties. These foods include dark green vegetables, celery, honeydew melons, and kiwifruit.

Blue and purple mean rich in the flavonoids called anthocyanins and phenolics, good for the brain, memory, and cardiovascular health as a person ages. These foods include blueberries, red cabbage, concord grapes, eggplant, raisins.

White means rich in allicin and selenium, both helpful for the heart and as a cancer preventative. These foods include bananas, brown pears, cauliflower, garlic, mushrooms, light-fleshed potatoes.

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