Proper nutrition is incredibly important for the development of early learners, and sometimes it can be difficult to convince children to try new things. At CentroNía, teachers turn eating vegetables into a lesson on the colors of the rainbow to help ease the anxiety some children have about new and unknown fruits and vegetables. In fact, the colors of fruits and vegetable are more than just beautiful; they tell us a story about the minerals and nutrients each contain!
Red and yellow and pink and green,
Purple and orange and blue.
I can sing a rainbow,
Sing a rainbow,
You can sing one too!
You know how to sing the rainbow song, but do you know how to eat a rainbow?
Fruits and vegetables come in many different colors not just to look visually appealing, but can also be used to determine the health benefits. Below is a quick guide to what benefits some of our favorite colorful foods provide our bodies when we choose to eat them:
- Red: Tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit are colored by the pigment “lycopene” or “anthocyanins”. Lycopene reduces risks of prostate cancer and anthocyanins protect cells from damage.
- Orange: Sweet potatoes, pumpkins and carrots have beta-carotene which is converted to vitamin A. It maintains healthy eyes, reduces risks of cancer, heart disease and improve our immune system.
- Green: Cucumber, green peppers, and celery contain “lutein” which works with “zeaxanthin” to keep our eyes healthy. Dark leafy greens such as spinach even have “folate” that reduce risk of birth defects.
- Blue/Purple: Blueberries, grapes, eggplants have “anthocyanins” that reduce risk of cancer, stoke and heart disease. It also improves memory function.
- White: Bananas, jicama, onions have “anthoxanthins” which contain allicin and can help reduce risk of stomach cancer and heart disease.
When shopping, try to buy fruits and vegetables of different colors to maximize you and your family’s health benefits. Teach your children to eat a rainbow since young and let them pick fruits and vegetables while singing the rainbow song!
Visit the CentroNía Food and Wellness program page to learn more about how CentroNía is working to improve nutrition in our community.