To celebrate Pride Month and discuss the importance of eating a colorful diet, N Good Health and NPride, Norton Healthcare’s LGBTQ+ employee resource group, are partnering to encourage you to add the colors of the rainbow to your diet.
The original rainbow flag debuted at the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Freedom Day Parade on June 25, 1978. According to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, Gilbert Baker is credited with the flag’s design and is said to have seen rainbows as a “natural flag . . . from the sky.” The now universal flag uses six colored stripes with specific meanings: red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, blue for serenity and violet for spirit. Recently, a more progressive Pride flag has introduced additional colors, including black, brown, pink, light blue and white. This flag was designed by Daniel Quasar and adopted by the LGBTQ+ community as a symbol of greater inclusivity and progress.
Just as the Pride flag encompasses diversity in the LGBTQ+ community, a rainbow of color can also signify a diverse diet. A beautiful plate full of a wide-variety of different colored fruits and veggies is a great indicator that you are eating a diverse spread of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, nutrients and phytonutrients. When humans eat plant foods, phytonutrients protect us from chronic diseases. They also have potent anti-cancer and anti-heart disease effects.
Here are the five colors of phytonutrients and their health benefits to add to your diet:
- Red – These foods are packed with lycopene, an antioxidant that is linked to protecting against prostate cancer and heart and lung disease.
- Examples of red-colored foods: tomatoes, watermelons, cherry tomatoes, red bell pepper, radish and strawberries
- Orange/Yellow – Packed with Vitamin C and beta-carotene, these phytonutrients promote eye health and immune health.
- Examples of foods orange/yellow foods include carrots, oranges, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, bananas and pineapple
- Green – These foods may be rich in lutein, fiber and vitamin K which helps support bone health, improved cognitive function and reduced risk of some cancers.
- Examples of green-colored foods: spinach, green grapes, edamame, avocado, asparagus, kale and green herbs
- Blue/Purple – Foods rich in this color are rich anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are described as compounds that is linked to encourage heart health, fight the effects of aging and help to protect and repair cells that were damaged by toxins (free-radicals).
- Examples of blue/purple-colored foods: eggplant, blueberries, plums, blackberries, elderberries, Concord grapes, figs, prunes and purple cabbage
The American Cancer Society recommends 2 1/2 cups per day of fruits and vegetables. The most recent US Dietary Guidelines recommend consuming even more – 2 1/2 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit, based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Don’t worry if you’re not eating that amount or anywhere close to it; just do your best! Check back next week to learn tips that make it easier to add the colors of the rainbow to your diet!
Reach for the Rainbow
Reaching a total of 4 1/2 cups of colorful fruits and vegetable a day is the goal for a powerful plate. Here are some ways to make it happen:
- Give yourself the right amount of credit. 1/2 cup of chopped raw vegetables or fruit makes one serving. Leafy greens take up more space so 1 cup chopped counts as a serving. 1/4 cup of dried fruit equals one serving.
- Think in sets of twos. Try to eat two servings of fruit and/or veggies in the morning, two in the afternoon and two at night.
- Snacks count, too. Feeling hungry between meals? Munch on a piece of fruit or grab some sliced raw vegetables to go.
- When shopping, look at your cart. If you find most of your choices are the same one or two colors, swap out a few to increase the colors — and phytonutrients — in your cart.
- Dine out colorfully. Start out with a cup of vegetable soup. Choose an arugula r spinach salad and see if they can add extra vegetables. Top off your meal with fresh fruit for dessert and a soothing cup of green tea.
- Look local. Farmers markets, co-ops, buying clubs and community supported farms are usually great sources of fresh produce. Ask a farmer for fresh ideas on how to prepare fruits and vegetables that are new to you.
- Frozen and canned produce is okay too! It is best to eat in season, but since seasonal produce may be limited, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables count and are just as nutritious as fresh. Pick ones that do not have added salt, gravy or sauce.
Eating a wide variety of colors increases the opportunity for you to consume a variety of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, nutrients and phytonutrients. Check out the Health and Wellness tab on NSite every Monday to discover a recipe that will help you add the colors of the rainbow to your diet. NPride members have submitted some of their favorite recipes to be featured during the month of June!
As part of Norton Healthcare’s Inclusion Strategy, ERGs enable a diverse and inclusive work environment that drives increased engagement. Membership on any ERG is open to all Norton Healthcare employees. NPride provides employees and patients access to a safe and supportive community that values diversity, trust and progress. For more information visit the NPride department page on NSite.