The nutritional needs of a woman during pregnancy goes up exponentially. She needs extra nutrients to nourish her foetus along with her changing body. Which is why I recommend the “Rainbow Fast Food Diet” for all the expecting mamas out there.
No, I am not trying to introduce a new version of some fad diet. The Rainbow Diet simply means consuming as many different colours of fruits and vegetables as possible.
Ironically, fruits and vegetables can be thought of as nature’s Fast Foods. Fruits come ready to eat and taste delicious. On the other hand, loads of vegetables taste great when raw and all of them are fairly easy and fast to cook. Infact, overcooking them can degrade their nutrients. Which other food is available to eat as fast as them? Let’s see why a rainbow diet consisting of readily available fruits and vegetables is so important during pregnancy…
According to the American Pregnancy Association, expectant mothers should have at least two to four servings of fruits and four or more servings of vegetables daily.
While all fruits and vegetables are nature’s gift to us in terms of nutrition and taste, each of them has unique health benefits. And the secret of their unique health properties is hidden in their color! While appearances are often deceiving when it comes to humans, the colours and appearances of fruits and vegetables can give us an accurate idea of the quality and quantity of their innumerable health benefits.
Let’s take the example of one of the most popular fruits: apples. Not all apples are the same! Green apples may contain slightly more fibre and less carbohydrates than red apples. Red apples contain higher amounts of sugar, beta carotene, along with slightly more antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
When we look at vegetables, capsicums or bell peppers too are available in various different shades. Compared to green bell peppers, the red ones have more beta carotene and vitamin C. Let’s now try to decode the meaning behind different colours of fruits and vegetables…
'Pregnant? Here are all the key nutrition facts you need to know'
The Rainbow Diet
Red: Strawberries, beets, pomegranates, cherries, watermelons, tomatoes etc have the beautiful and bright red color. While they all are individually powerhouses of many vitamins, they also contain phytochemicals which help control high blood pressure and diabetes. High blood pressure and diabetes are a very common cause of complications during pregnancy and delivery. The red colored fruits also have properties that promote good health by fighting against many diseases.
Orange and Yellow: Pumpkins, carrots, oranges, mangoes, sweet corn, lemons, peaches are all examples of yellow/orange colored fruits and vegetables. Their color is an indication that they are rich in folate which is a super nutrient in pregnancy. Folate prevents neural tube defects in unborn infants while promoting healthy growth of brain and spinal cord. They are also a great source of vitamin A which is great for both mother’s and developing baby’s heart, lungs, kidneys, bones, eyes etc.
Green: Broccoli, spinach, asparagus, avocado, peas, kiwifruit, beans etc are all examples of green colored fruits and vegetables. Their color makes them rich in iron, vitamin K, C, E and folate. Iron builds placenta and helps supply oxygenated blood to growing fetus. Folate helps develop baby’s brain and spinal cord. The vitamins promote healthy growth of baby’s skin, eyes, bones etc.
Blue and Purple: Blueberries, blackberries, eggplants, black olives, purple grapes, purple cabbages etc have this unique blue/purple color. What makes them so special? They are a treasure trove of antioxidants which in turn increases the expecting mother’s immunity levels and prevent infections.
White and Brown: Bananas, dates, cauliflowers, mushrooms, garlic, onions, potatoes, ginger etc all have white or brown tinge to them. They are a superb source of fiber which helps solve constipation, a common pregnancy and postpartum complaint. They are also very rich in antioxidants, potassium, magnesium and help protect the mother’s heart against high cholesterol.
Ideally every mum-to-be should make sure that her diet includes a little of each colour to maximize and cover the wide range of nutritional benefits. But why should this be restricted only to her? Everybody in the family should make sure to eat as much variety and colors of nature’s produce. Have fun filling your shopping carts with as many colors of fruits and vegetables as possible. The aim should be to create a rainbow on your plate for the whole family.
Pranjul Tandon is a childbirth educator and newborn care coach. She is certified with CAPPA (Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association) and IAIM (International Association of Infant Massage). To know more about her services, go to www.wombandbeyond.info