“Eat Right with Color” is the 2011 theme for National Nutrition Month. You may have heard a similar phrase: Eat a Rainbow Every Day. When choosing colorful fruits and vegetables each day you are loading up on a variety of disease fighting nutrients. Brightly colored produce contains high levels of phytochemicals-natural plant substances that experts think help fend off certain cancers, heart disease, and the effects of aging. Here is a quick color guide of benefits and examples.
A Food Color Guide
Blue and Purple produce may help maintain memory function, urinary tract health, have anti-aging benefits and may help reduce cancer risk. Examples include blueberries, blackberries, plums, raisins, eggplant, grapes, and purple cabbage.
Green fruits and vegetables may promote healthy vision, strong bones and teeth, and reduce risk of some cancers. Examples include avocado, grapes, honeydew, kiwi, limes, apples, asparagus, broccoli, green beans, peppers, artichoke, and leafy greens such as spinach.
Orange and Yellow produce contain nutrients that promote vision and heart health and a healthy immune system. Examples include apricot, cantaloupe, mango, papaya, peach, pineapple, carrots, peppers, corn, and sweet potatoes.
Red fruits and vegetables can help maintain heart health, memory function, immunity, and urinary tract health. Examples include cherries, cranberries, pomegranate, grapes, watermelon, grapefruit, beets, peppers, tomatoes, rhubarb.
White, Tan, and Brown foods contain nutrients that promote heart health and may reduce cancer risks. Examples are banana, pear, dates, cauliflower, mushrooms, onions, turnips, potatoes, white corn.
Tips to create a rainbow of color on your plate:
- Fill half your plate with colorful fruits and vegetables at every meal. Remember they are low in calories so this has many benefits!
- Try a spinach salad with dried cranberries, mandarin oranges, blueberries, and red onion with your favorite vinaigrette dressing.
- Make a tropical fruit salad with fruits of each color: oranges, mango, papaya, kiwi, bananas, and purple grapes.
- Saute your own medley of vegetables in a bit of olive oil: red onions, yellow peppers, carrots, and broccoli.
- Make a dried fruit and nut mix for snacks. Include dried craisins, raisins, apricots, apples, blueberries, and mixed nuts.
- Add mushrooms, onions, peppers, and tomatoes to scrambled eggs and omelets.
- Mix sliced bananas, strawberries, blueberries, or dried fruit into hot or cold cereal.
- Load up a pizza with peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, spinach, zucchini, onions, and pineapples. To make quick individual pizzas try a whole wheat pita topped with sauce, cheese, and the above veggies.
- Skewer up some cherry tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, onions, pineapples, to grill with your meat.
- Lower calories, increase color, and maximize nutrition by adding broccoli, carrots, peppers, and onions to pasta and potato salads and starchy casseroles.
“Eat Right with Color” Recipe
Here is an example of a recipe that helps you “Eat Right with Color”. A co-worker brought this to an office luncheon and the staff at National Clinical Research really enjoyed it. It may be a great opportunity to try a new food because this recipe uses jicama. Jicama is popular in Central America. It is high in fiber (6g per cup) and an excellent source of Vitamin C. You can find it in the produce section of most grocery stores. It looks similar to a turnip/potato.
Jicama Bean Tomato Salad
3 Tbsp lime juice
1 garlic clove minced
½ tsp ground cumin
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 (15ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 small jicama peeled and chopped
2 plum tomatoes diced
3 Tbsp diced red onion
1 yellow pepper diced
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
Whisk together the lime juice, garlic, cumin in mixing bowl. Slowly whisk in oil. Add beans, jicama, tomatoes, pepper, onion, and cilantro. Toss to combine and serve. Makes 8 servings. Nutrition Data: (1/2 cup serving) 110 calories, 6g fat, 1g saturated fat, 213mg sodium, 15g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 4g protein