Dine on a gorgous rainbow of fruits and vegetables, nutritionsts like to remind us, and we'll net nature's full spectrum of health-promoting nutrients. But what does an "eat-your-colors" diet look like after the first few salad bar creations? We've come up with a handful of inspiring dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner that taste as vivid as they look.
Good Sources: red wine, red grapes
Benefits: The wonder-working polyphenol neutralizes free radicals and may inhibit inflammation.
Cooking Tip: For a quick hit, roast whole grapes with garlic and fresh thyme. Add frozen grapes to fruit salad (bonus: theyâ€™ll keep the dish chilled).
Good Source: chile peppers
Benefits: Hot stuff, indeed: This helps stave off hunger and even burns some calories. It also relieves pain.
Cooking Tip: Add minced chiles to scrambled eggs and stir-fries.
Good Sources: tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit, bell peppers
Benefits: A diet rich in this carotenoid may reduce the risk of prostate cancer by as much as 35 percent.
Cooking Tip: The body best absorbs lycopene when combined with fat: Toss tomatoes and watermelon with olive oil and feta. Canned tomatoes are a smart staple during the fruit's off season; lycopene content may even increase in foods processed at high temperatures.
Good Source: turmeric
Benefits: An added perk to take-out curry: The antioxidant properties of curcumin may help counter the bodyâ€™s negative responses to high-fat foods.
Cooking Tip: Mix the spice into salad dressings or sprinkle it on cooked vegetables such as kale and cauliflower.
Good Sources: Papaya, tangerines
Benefits: This carotenoid plays an important role in vision and in bone and cell growth.
Good Sources: sweet potatoes, carrots, winter squash, cantaloupe
Benefits: This mighty antiager, which converts to vitamin A in the body, bolsters immunity.
Cooking Tip: Like other carotenoids, it's best absorbed with fat: Roast vegetables with oil; pair cantaloupe with avocado.
Hesperidin and Naringenin:
Good Sources: Citrus
Benefits: The powerful flavonoids stave off inflammation and blood vessel damage caused by poor diets.
Cooking Tip: Broil citrus slices sprinkled with a pinch of raw sugar and serve over oatmeal.
Fresh slices of citrus give a jolt of energy to roasted peppers and carrots while also complementing their natural sweetness. Goat cheese adds a satisfying creamy tang, but sherry vinegar is the real secret weapon here, bringing out the floral notes of the fruit.
Good Source: pineapple
Benefits: This enzyme may ease indigestion and asthma.
Cooking Tip: Grilled pineapple slices make a sweet, simple dessert, and chopped cubes go well with a little Greek yogurt.
Good Sources: citrus
Benefits: These may lower cholesterol and protect against breast, skin, and stomach cancers.
Cooking Tip: Zest away: Limonoids are concentrated in citrus peel. For dinner, bake fish with Meyer lemon slices -- then eat the fruit, skin and all.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin:
Good Sources: corn, leafy greens
Benefits This duo keeps eyes strong, protecting the retina and reducing the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
Cooking Tip: Grill corn and top with feta and cayenne. Preserve kernels in the freezer; this may increase lutein levels.
Good Sources: watercress, leeks, arugula, parsley
Benefits: Present in virtually every green plant food (even pistachios!), this may decrease the risk of liver cancer.
Cooking Tip: Leeks are milder than onions; thinly sliced, they make a delicious addition to salads.
Apigenin and Luteolin:
Good Sources: celery, parsley
Benefits: This pair's neuroprotective properties may fight diseases like Alzheimer's.
Cooking Tip: Add parsley to salads. Sliced celery, plain yogurt, and lemon juice make a simple dip.
Good Source: green tea
Benefits: Consumption of freshly brewed leaves may lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Cooking Tip: Blend brewed green tea with frozen berries and honey for a smoothie.
Good Sources: Kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli
Benefits: Found in cruciferous vegetables, these help purge the body of potential carcinogens.
Cooking Tip: Raw foods offer the most potent supply. For a no-cook side, marinate thinly sliced brussels sprouts in olive oil and lemon juice and toss with sliced apple.
No cream required: Tahini gives this soup its buttery flavor and silky texture -- and makes a serving of dark leafy greens unusually enticing. Sliced avocado dressed with lemon and sprouts jazzes up ordinary crusty bread and rounds out this balanced meal.
Good Sources: purple cauliflower, purple cabbage
Benefits: Derived from sulfur compounds in cruciferous veggies, these may slow the metabolism of carcinogens.
Cooking Tip: Steam cauliflower: it's likely the best prep for retaining indoles. Toss chopped kale with mashed avocado and olive oil.
Good Sources: berries
Benefits: The phytochemical may lessen the effect of estrogen in promoting breast-cancer cell growth.
Cooking Tip: Keep frozen berries on hand for smoothies. For a spritzer, mash them and top with club soda.
Good Sources: red cabbage, eggplant, grapes, berries
Benefits: These antioxidants improve brain function and balance, and they may reduce the risk of cancer, stroke, and heart disease.
Cooking Tip: Try swapping in finely shredded cabbage for your typical salad greens and toss with avocado and red onion.
Not your average stir-fry: Black rice takes on a deep purple hue when cooked and makes for a dramatic and more nutritious dinner plate. Plus, spoonful for spoonful, the dark grain has more anthocyanin antioxidants than blueberries. Japanese eggplant brings meatiness; red cabbage supplies fresh crunch.