By Michelle Carbery, Corporate Wellness Specialist, Independent Health

Springtime may be the ideal time to catch a glimpse of a colorful rainbow. It may also be a perfect time to consider adding more color to your plate. You can find a rainbow of colors in the produce section at your supermarket, and all that color provides big nutritional benefits.

The American Heart Association recommends eating eight or more fruit and vegetable servings every day. Therefore, here’s an overview of the health benefits of different-colored fruits and veggies:

  • Red – Red fruits and vegetables are nature’s powerhouse on nutrition and benefits. Containing phytochemicals – including lycopene and ellagic acid – red foods have cancer-fighting benefits and can reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Watermelon, strawberries, red apples, tomatoes and red peppers are just a few of the healthy options to put in your shopping cart.
  • Orange – Orange foods are high inbeta carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A to keep skin, teeth, eyes and bones healthy, not to mention keep your immune system strong. Roast some butternut squash as a great side dish or slice up papaya and mango for a tropical treat.
  • Yellow – Like orange-colored foods, yellow produce is also full of beta carotene. They also contain a powerful carotenoid that has strong antioxidant properties to reduce your risk of developing inflammatory disorders, like rheumatoid arthritis. Since these nutrients are best absorbed with a little healthy fat, try a little nut butter with your banana or spritz some olive oil on your roasted ear of corn.
  • Green –Green foods are not only great for bones and teeth, but they also allow your blood to clot properly. That’s because they contain a slew of antioxidants, vitamin B12 and vitamin K. Plus, they are rich in cancer-blocking chemicals. If you’re not a fan of kale, spinach or other leafy greens, try adding them to a fruit smoothie. You can also add asparagus, grapes, snow peas and celery to your menu.
  • Blue and Purple – Blueberries, plums, eggplant and purple cabbage are known for their heart-healthy properties along with keeping your brain functioning properly. In addition, the nitrates found in these foods may help reduce blood pressure and even enhance physical performance.
  • White – Foods like cauliflower, mushrooms and white potatoes are high in dietary fiber, which help protect against high cholesterol and have antioxidant-rich flavonoids.

Remember, the next time you’re planning out your meals for the week, try to incorporate multiple colors. You will add visual variety to your plate while also reaping the health benefits.