Colorful foods brighten up diet
March 2, 2011 · 9:15 AM
Want to eat better? Add a bit of color.
That doesn’t mean reaching for a bag of Skittles or adding a lime to your beer.
Brightly colored fruits and vegetables are a key component of a healthful diet, but too often our meals are monochromatic. Turns out, Mom was right: Eat your fruits and veggies.
Fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants, including polyphenols and phytochemicals, which fight damaging free radicals in the body while reducing the risk of some diseases.
In simple terms, they make us feel better.
They’re full of water so they increase hydration and they’re high in fiber so they keep us full and satisfied. They’re convenient, they’re relatively cheap and they’re naturally prepackaged for on-the-go eating.
“Adding a splash of colorful seasonal foods to your plate makes for more than just a festive meal,” said Karen Ansel, registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. “A rainbow of foods creates a palette of nutrients, each with a different bundle of potential benefits for a healthful eating plan.”
Since March is National Nutrition Month, with the theme “eat right with color,” Ansel offered some ways to brighten up your plate with this quick color guide. If nothing else, think of how happy this would make your mother.
Green produce indicates antioxidant potential and may help promote healthy vision and reduce cancer risks.
Fruits: avocado, apples, grapes, honeydew, kiwi and lime.
Vegetables: artichoke, asparagus, broccoli, green beans, green peppers and leafy greens like spinach
Orange and yellow
Orange and deep yellow fruits and vegetables contain nutrients that promote healthy vision and immunity and reduce the risk of some cancers.
Fruits: apricot, cantaloupe, grapefruit, mango, papaya, peach and pineapple.
Vegetables: carrots, yellow pepper, yellow corn and sweet potatoes.
Purple and blue
Purple and blue options may have antioxidant and anti-aging benefits and may help with memory, urinary tract health and reduced cancer risks.
Fruits: blackberries, blueberries, plums, raisins.
Vegetables: eggplant, purple cabbage, purple-fleshed potato.
Red indicates produce that may help maintain a healthy heart, vision, immunity and may reduce cancer risks.
Fruits: cherries, cranberries, pomegranate, red/pink grape fruit, red grapes and watermelon.
Vegetables: beets, red onions, red peppers, red potatoes, rhubarb and tomatoes.
White, tan and brown
White, tan and brown foods sometimes contain nutrients that may promote heart health and reduce cancer risks.
Fruits: banana, brown pear, dates and white peaches.
Vegetables: cauliflower, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, turnips, white-fleshed potato and white corn.
When shopping for seasonal fruits and vegetables, choose a variety of colors to get the broadest range of nutrients. Out-of-season produce can be found frozen, canned, dried or juiced. Whole fruit is preferable to juice, but juice is better than nothing. Look for a beverage that is 100 percent juice.
The recently released 2010 dietary guidelines for Americans recommend an increased focus on a plant-based diet. This combined with including lean meats, fish and poultry, and low-fat milk and dairy products creates a rainbow of colors on the plate that serve as the foundation for a healthful eating plan.
Claire Kjeld is a registered dietitian with MultiCare’s Center for Healthy Living. For information, call 1-800-485-0205 or visit www.multicare.org/home/center-healthy-living.
Ask questions about nutrition during an e-chat with Claire Kjeld at noon March 16 at www.multicare.org/home/health-connect.
Questions can be submitted in advance by e-mailing email@example.com. For information on fruits and vegetables, visit www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org.