January 6, 2021

4 Exciting Reasons to Rotate Your Foods

If you’re eating the same thing, adding variety to your diet benefits you

purple cauliflower for a change of pace

Ugh, you’re sitting and picking at that same grilled chicken salad and pasta every day and frankly, you’re getting bored of it. Have you ever noticed that your grocery list and your meal prep look the same every week? A lack of variety may help you stay on track with your diet.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Add a little spark to your meal routine and you’ll avoid diet burnout.

“Slip a few new foods into your grocery cart every week to increase variety in your diet,” says dietitian Beth Czerwony, RD. “This not only makes your routine more exciting and fresh — it may also offer impressive nutritional benefits.”

Here are four reasons to rotate your foods:

1. You’ll get more nutrients

You may miss out on different nutrients that different foods provide if you eat the same foods every day. For instance, cashews and pine nuts are a good source of magnesium. But if you don’t occasionally eat sunflower seeds and hazelnuts, too, you may be skimping on your vitamin E.

The same rule applies to foods’ color. Each color of the rainbow brings unique nutritional benefits, essential for optimal health. For example, green veggies and fruits provide you with lots of plant-based phytonutrients like chlorophyll. But you may lack the phytonutrients from red, orange, yellow, and blue/purple plant-based foods.

The United States Department of Agriculture recommends building your plate with a variety of fruits, veggies, grains, dairy and lean protein. Make sure to fill half your plate with fruits and veggies and then add whole grains and protein.

Try to add new color variations into your diet rotation like purple cauliflower, white asparagus, sweet potatoes and rainbow-colored carrots. If you’re not sure where to start, consult with a dietitian.


2. You may live longer

It’s true — eating a nutritious diet with a lot of variety may lower your risk of mortality. One study of 59,000 women found that those who rotated 16 to 17 healthy foods through their diet had a 42% lower mortality from all causes than those eating zero to eight healthy foods.

The researchers concluded that nutritious variety was as important — if not more so — than limiting unhealthy foods. So instead of only focusing on limiting inflammatory foods, be sure to increase the variety of nutrients in your diet with plenty of vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, healthy fats and lean protein.

3. You’ll reduce your risk of metabolic syndrome

In one study, researchers compared two groups of men and women, ages 40 to 69. The first group incorporated a variety of foods into their diet (such as fish, seafood, vegetables, seaweed, fruits, nuts, etc.).

The second ate a limited diet with very little variety. The study found that those with more variety in their diet were at lower risk of metabolic syndrome. This syndrome, involving abdominal obesity, low HDL cholesterol and high fasting glucose levels, increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

4. You may start losing inches

Say goodbye to those stubborn inches around your waistline. Rotating foods and eating a varied diet also helps increase the diversity of good bacteria in your gut. Greater diversity in gut bacteria is associated not only with better overall health, but also with weight loss.

One study suggested that people who follow a vegetarian/vegan diet have a better bio diversity in their gut bacteria verses those who eat animal products.

“The benefits of having such a diverse gut microbiome are impressive, studies show an increase in anti-inflammatory and anti-pathogenic effects which directly have cardiovascular benefit,” she says. “Other positive effects of varying bacteria include improved immunity and improved functions in the gut.”


One of the best ways to achieve this altered gut bacteria is to have a variety of fruits and vegetables in varying colors in the diet.

In a 2016 study, researchers analyzed stool samples from 1,300 twins in the United Kingdom. They found a link between bacterial diversity and markers for obesity and heart disease. Especially strong was the link between more dietary diversity and less abdominal fat.

The researchers also found that the twins’ parents passed on microbes that can increase risk for the belly fat linked to metabolic syndrome.

The easiest ways to add variety and rotate foods? Try one or two new recipes each week using new ingredients and aim to eat all the colors of the rainbow at least once a day. With so many different resources online, you’re bound to find new and exciting ways to introduce a variety of food into your weekly meal plans.

Related Articles

variety of food groups containing manganese and magnesium
November 30, 2023
Manganese vs. Magnesium: Two Important Minerals With Key Differences

They’re both essential minerals but do different jobs in your body

holy basil leaves, known as tulsi, on wooden spoon
November 30, 2023
The Benefits of Holy Basil (Tulsi)

This herb offers different potential benefits from the basil you find in pesto

cool tropical smoothie with straw
November 30, 2023
Recipe: Cool Tropical Smoothie

A zesty thirst-quencher that’s dairy-free and vegan

salmon and broccoli over rice
November 29, 2023
6 Foods To Eat for Healthy Joints

Fish, cruciferous veggies, turmeric, yogurt, ginger and green tea all reduce inflammation

skillet of ground turkey stroganoff
November 28, 2023
Recipe: Healthy Turkey Stroganoff

A hearty dish that’s easy to put together

Top view of a bowl of chili topped with sour cream and jalapeños with tortilla chips for dipping.
November 24, 2023
Recipe Adventure: How To Build a Better Bowl of Chili

From meat to beans, we’ve got some ideas to help you create the perfect-for-you chili recipe

Spearmint tea in a glass see through cup with spearmint leaves scattered on the saucer and background.
November 22, 2023
3 Health Benefits of Spearmint Tea

This subtly minty beverage can help balance hormones and loosen stiff joints

Overhead closeup of cauliflower pseudo mashed potatoes in a bowl on a wooden table.
November 21, 2023
Recipe: Cauliflower Mashed Pseudo Potatoes

A creamy mashed cauliflower that’s sure to please

Trending Topics

group of hands holding different beverages
November 14, 2023
10 Myths About Drinking Alcohol You Should Stop Repeating

Coffee won’t cure a hangover and you definitely shouldn’t mix your cocktail with an energy drink

Person applies moisturizer as part of their skin care routine after a shower.
November 10, 2023
Korean Skin Care Routines: What You Need To Know

Focus on the philosophy — replenishing and respecting your skin — not necessarily the steps

glass of cherry juice with cherries on table
November 8, 2023
Sleepy Girl Mocktail: What’s in It and Does It Really Make You Sleep Better?

This social media sleep hack with tart cherry juice and magnesium could be worth a try