Number of different vegetables that are green, orange, purple, and red on a white plate

Why Color Variety Is So Important for Your Diet

Make sure your plate is covered with these four hues.

Photo by Egor Myznik on Unsplash

“Nothing is pleasant that is not spiced with variety.” — Francis Bacon

EDITORIAL DISCLAIMER: Any advice or recommendation in my writing is what works for ME and may not be the best regimen for you based on your psychological or physiological makeup and stability. Please consult a doctor when making decisions about your health.

Brussel sprouts. Carrots. Beets. Sweet potatoes. Yuck!

My younger self would’ve thought a plate full of this was punishment for getting a bad grade in school or harassing my sister and making her cry.

Now that I’ve been living a vegetarian lifestyle for the last four months, the thought of having a plate filled with a variety of different foods and colors makes my stomach do somersaults in anticipation of the quality and diversity to come.

My first short stint at vegetarianism at the beginning of COVID in 2020 was short-lived because I didn’t think I was able to get all the nutrients my body needed to continue to thrive and grow.

This did turn out to be true. However, it wasn’t because I couldn’t get them but because I was very short-sighted in my view of HOW to get them.

Once I opened my mind to the importance of getting variety in my diet with different colors and types of food, getting all the nutrients I needed in a day (and then some) was effortless.

From this, I have concluded that vegetarian or not, it is essential for individuals to consistently get variety in colors on their plate for as many meals as possible.

Here are two reasons why and how you can get started today.

They are much lower in calories

Fruits and vegetables.

That’s basically it. When you try to eat food with a host of different colors, you will find that these two food groups are going to be the majority of what you would need to eat to do so.

This is because once you cook meat, it has the same “brownish” look to it that won’t allow you to get the kaleidoscope of colors that a fully varied diet will provide.

To get that mix of red, yellows, purples, and greens, you are going to have to focus on eating those things that come from the ground or off a tree.

The great byproduct of this decision is that many of these foods are naturally lower in calories than meat and will give you the opportunity to consume way more in the volume of food than you will consume calories.

If you are focused on controlling or reducing your weight in any manner, this would be a helpful tactic that will keep you satiated while reducing your overall caloric consumption — a very helpful practice to keep weight under control.

The second great byproduct is even more beneficial long term.

They provide essential nutrients and phytonutrients

You better eat your vegetables.

Many of us heard this from our parents growing up as we sat at the table, disgusted at the remaining green beans or carrots left on our plate while having inhaled a full portion of mac and cheese like we were fearful of it being taken away.

Our parents knew what they were talking about then, as the nutrients provided by these foods were essential to our growth during that critical development stage in our lives.

However, these nutrients are still essential as we grow and even more so as we age and begin to see middle age as a reality or right around the corner.

The color of the various foods is a good indicator of the presence of something called phytonutrients, which are important to the plant’s ability to fight off harmful effects of the sun and other outside influences that can damage their immune system and ability to grow to their max capacity.

Much in the same way, when we consume these types of food, these phytonutrients help our body’s ability to function optimally as we age. They provide a host of positive effects for our bodies to help us fight against chronic disease and have anti-cancer and anti-heart disease effects.

So now that we’ve covered “the why,” let’s focus on “the what” to help you implement these into your lifestyle immediately.

Add these four colors to your diet with these foods

Get your GROB on.

I love pneumonics to help remember information, and if I can come up with something clever at the same time, even better!

You can think of this helpful acronym when considering what hue of colors to always try to have on your plate.

G stands for Green, which is important for aiding in eye health as you age, as well as contains folic acid that helps pregnant women reduce the chances their baby will have any birth defects. It also helps with a host of other things to enhance your immune system, promote blood and bone health, and improve the digestion system.

Examples of green fruits and vegetables: broccoli, spinach, Brussel sprouts, green apples, kiwis, avocado

R stands for Red, which contains antioxidants that are helpful in reducing the risk of high cholesterol and hypertension. It also lowers the risk of prostate cancer, protects against heart disease, and improves brain function. Some have even been known to help with erectile dysfunction. Probably a bit cheaper than Viagra.

Examples of red fruits and vegetables: tomatoes, red cabbage, beets, radishes, strawberries, cherries, cranberries, red apples

O stands for Orange. You could combine this with yellow, as the colors or relatively close. These food are packed with nutrients that help promote eye health, prevent heart disease, and reduce the chance of stroke. They help maintain healthy skin, build strong bones, and boost the immune system.

Examples of orange (yellow) fruits and vegetables: carrots, pumpkins, corn, sweet potato, oranges, peaches, mangoes pineapples

Lastly, B stands for Blue. Once again, you could combine this with purple for their relative closeness. Similar to the others, it helps prevent heart disease and cancer while reducing your chances of having a stroke. They also help with retaining our memory and cognitive abilities as we age, while also protecting our urinary tract health and regulating healthy digestion.

Examples of blue (purple) fruits and vegetables: eggplants, purple cabbage, Korean sweet potatoes, blueberries, grapes, plums, raisins

In summation, eating a rainbow of colors with each meal will ensure your body is getting all the nutrients and phytonutrients important to help prevent various diseases and ailments.

And while there’s nothing wrong with throwing a burger or piece of chicken on your plate every now and then if you desire, focusing on consistently “getting your G.R.O.B on” will pay dividends for which your future self will be thankful.