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Eating the rainbow: One salad at a time

Colorful vegetables and fruit

This article is written by Illinois State University dietetic intern, Maggie Loveridge. Maggie spent four weeks of her internship with University of Illinois Extension.

Ever heard of the slogan ‘Taste the rainbow,’ by the famous candy brand Skittles®? While you may ‘taste’ the rainbow when consuming this candy, it offers little nutritional benefits. Fruits and vegetables of all different colors, however, provide numerous nutritional advantages. Salads for instance can easily help you ‘eat the rainbow.’

Numerous health benefits like improved vision, decreased inflammation, reduced risk of chronic diseases like cancer, and a stronger immune system can come from eating the rainbow. These benefits arise due to something called phytochemicals. Phytochemicals have a positive impact on our overall health. Phytochemicals are the ‘good guys’ as they help to defend against free radicals in our bodies. Free radicals in contrast are the ‘bad guys’ as they can weaken our immune system and cause several chronic diseases to develop. A diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables is one way to promote a greater presence of these phytochemicals.

Salads are a great way to get a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. However, when it comes to salad greens, not all are created equally. Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, arugula, and romaine lettuce are ‘nutrient powerhouses’ as they contain more vitamins and minerals than iceberg lettuce. Therefore, when building your salads, incorporate more of those dark leafy greens, or do a mix of iceberg and dark leafy greens. Also, incorporate a colorful variety of produce! Think cherry tomatoes and yellow peppers or shredded carrots and beets — they are all combinations that can add some color to your salad.


Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2022). Eat the rainbow for good health - mayo clinic news network. Mayo Clinic. 

About the Author


Maggie Loveridge is a dietetic intern from Illinois State University. Maggie spent four weeks of her internship with University of Illinois Extension.