next time you eat, check out the color of the food on your plate. How
colorful are your food choices?
Scientists are just beginning to understand the more than 9,000
“phytochemicals” (plant chemicals) found in fruits and vegetables. Many are
natural colorants. Because colorful fruits and vegetables contain hundreds
of different phytochemicals, no one color group does it all. By eating at
least one serving from each of the color groups shown below every day, you
are giving yourself the best health protection possible.
Red: Red apples, red grapes,
grapefruit, strawberries, red onions, red cabbage and watermelon all contain
“anthocyanin” pigments, which act as antioxidants in the body. Antioxidants
may help protect us from cancer and heart disease.
Add some variety to your menu with blueberries, purple grapes, raisins and
plums. Be adventurous. Have you ever tried eggplant? The blue/purple
natural colorants (anthocyanin pigments) may reduce risk of heart disease,
cancer and maybe even Alzheimer’s disease.
Green: Go beyond iceberg lettuce in
your salad. Try spinach and other leafy greens. Greens contain an
antioxidant pigment “lutein”, which may help reduce your chances of getting
cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, which can cause blindness.
Orange/gold/yellow: Carrots, squash,
pumpkin and apricots contain beta-carotene, which the body changes to
vitamin A. Eating plenty of deep orange fruits and vegetables may lower
your risk for cancer and heart disease plus keep your immune system strong.
Other orange and yellow fruits like lemons, peaches and oranges contain a
chemical “bioflavonoid”, which helps wounds heal.
White: Even white vegetables like onions and garlic are sources of a
chemical “allicin” which may help lower blood cholesterol.
To learn more about fruits and vegetables and ways to incorporate them into
your daily diet, join us in February for our
Fit Fargo 5+5 cyber challenge! This challenge promotes the consumption of
at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day and encourages
physical activity 5 days a week.
Adapted from “Add Some Color to your Menu!”, Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU