Have you ever heard of the “rainbow diet?” Attributed to one Dr. Eric Braverman, the “rainbow diet” refers to the eating of fruits and vegetables of a wide array of colors, from red to green to purple, and avoiding “white” foods such as sugars and carbohydrates. These colors of the rainbow are derived from a variety of chemicals called antioxidants.

Antioxidants are so colored because the same chemical property that eats up damaging excess electrons also creates visible colors, and these antioxidants have powerful healing properties that can benefit a multitude of ailments, from chronic joint pain, to heart disease and even cancer. Maintaining a diet of the various antioxidants can go a long way in healing current afflictions and the overall preventive care of your body.

The first of these antioxidants is lycopene. Found in red foods such as tomatoes and watermelons, lycopene is a bright red carotene and carotenoid pigment and phytochemical, and is known to be a defense against prostate cancer and heart disease.

Another color-coded antioxidant is chlorophyll, a detoxification agent found in leafy green vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, and broccoli. Chlorophyll has been shown to reduce risk to certain types of cancer, and evidence suggests it is involved in the inhibition of lipid peroxidation and protection of mitochondria from oxidative damage induced by various free-radicals and other reactive oxygen species.

Many-colored fruits and vegetables also contain a good amount of Vitamins A, C, E, and glutathione, beta-carotene, Selenium, and alpha lipoic acid, all of which are considered antioxidants. These antioxidants attack what are referred to as “free radicals,” damaging excess electrons that can disrupt stable cells, leading to a series of health problems.

Nature knows best. A diet rich in colorful, natural fruits and vegetables can promote a healthful and satisfying lifestyle. As the commercial says: “Taste the rainbow.” (But don’t eat Skittles.)