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Why it's important to eat the rainbow

Color is a powerful fixture in our lives. It brings variety, beauty, and fun into what would otherwise be a dull existence. It even has the power to affect the way people think and feel.

When it comes to food, color is about more than just aesthetics and emotions. Nutritionists like to give the advice to “eat the rainbow” not just to make our plates look pretty (although that is certainly a plus!), but because a lot of natural color means there will be a lot of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. The phytonutrients that give fruits and vegetables their color are a very important part of a healthy, balanced diet.

For example, citrus fruits are high in vitamin C and other antioxidants. Green vegetables have a lot of vitamins K, B, and E, as well as iron, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Red foods are a good source of antioxidants and carotenoids. Nature has provided us with an abundance of variety when it comes to color.

And yet, beige food prevails

Despite our many options for colorful foods, it is all too easy to put a meal together that is devoid of color. Mashed potatoes, french fries, bread, pasta, chicken—these beige-colored foods are all fixtures in our diet.

It’s not hard to see why. If you were to poll a group of people on what their comfort foods are, a good percentage of them would say mashed potatoes or pasta. Toast and other breads are happy to oblige when you need a quick breakfast on-the-go. Anyone can make pasta.

Beige food is easy. Little wonder that it’s taken over our plates.

A challenge for our day: Eating the rainbow

While specific hues in fashion and interior design grow in popularity and then are replaced with the next hot thing a few months later, colorful foods never go out of style. That is, if our bodies have anything to say about it.

Eating the rainbow can be tricky though, especially if you don’t have access to a lot of fruits and vegetables or if you don’t like a lot of the colorful foods. And with our on-the-go lifestyles, more and more people are turning to processed foods instead of nourishing, whole-food sources—opting for fast and easy over nutritious.

It should come as little surprise, then, that nutrient deficiency is a worldwide problem. Nine out of 10 people don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables—it’s pretty difficult to get the nutrients we need that way.

Adding more color to our meals and snacks can help us out of this rut. It can be a fun creative challenge too!

Tips to fill your plates with color

1. A meal is not complete without a fruit or vegetable (or both!). Get in the habit of always including 1–2 servings per meal.

2. Use fruits and veggies as add-ons to foods you already make. Omelets, cereal, smoothies, sandwiches—all of these common foods make it easy to sneak in extra color (and nutrients!) without changing the flavor too much.

3. Use the “eat the rainbow” challenge as an excuse to try new foods. Keep an eye out for colorful foods when you’re at the grocery store to add to your cart. You never know, you might find a new favorite food this way!

4. Frozen produce is better than none at all. This will make it easier to keep your plates colorful during the off seasons, too.

5. Change up your cooking methods. Tired of steamed broccoli? Try roasting instead. Need a break from carrot sticks? Enjoy a them in a delicious soup. There are so many different ways to prepare colorful foods, so change things up every now and then to keep them fresh and interesting.

Eating the rainbow is as fun as you make it. It doesn’t have to be hard, either. After all, colorful food sources are all around us—we just need to make more room for them on our plates.

Get creative with Complete

We get it – most of us don’t have the time to cook up a storm with creative, colorful dishes every day. Here’s our tip: If you only have a few minutes, create colorful smoothies with the Unicity Complete Protein Shake! Grab a handful of spinach and lettuce leaves, some apple or pear and you get a beautiful bright green power smoothie with a balanced nutrient profile.

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