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Nutrition Facts: Eat a Rainbow

March is a special time of year because not only is it Women’s History Month, it also marks National Nutrition Month. These series of weekly posts will offer nutrition tips to help you make healthier choices, but please ask your doctor or nutritionist for the proper advice that fits your lifestyle.

Nutrition Facts: Eat a Rainbow
No, I’m not talking about Skittles, I’m talking about fruits and vegetables. Colorful foods are not just appealing to the eye, because eating a variety of fruits and veggies will diversify the taste buds AND provide your body with an assortment of essential nutrients.

Incorporating different colors into your diet can be easy.  For breakfast, add blueberries and bananas to your cereal.  For lunch, make a salad with red leaf lettuce and carrots.  For dinner, cook up a stir-fry with bell peppers and bok choy.  And for dessert, build a yogurt parfait with strawberries and oranges.  If cooking is an art, think of your plate like a canvas and mix those colors up!

Read the rest of the story to find out how eating a rainbow everyday can hook you up!

Many experts suggest we need a total of 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Unfortunately, many people barely even eat the minimum of 5 servings! The amount required varies depending on your age, your gender, and your activity level. For example, older or inactive women need at least 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit. Active women who exercise more than 60 minutes each day need at least 4 servings of vegetables and 3 servings of fruit. Try this tool to see how much you need each day.

What counts a serving?
The tool above uses “cups” to measure the amount of fruits and vegetables required.  Some larger whole fruits equal 1 cup, for example an apple, but I tend to compare a serving size to my hand.  Generally, if it can fit in your hand when it’s cupped, then it’s considered 1 serving. If it is larger than one hand, like a large banana, it’s 2 servings. I find it easier to visually measure this way, rather than carrying a measuring cup around. Either way, since so many don’t even get their 5 servings in each day, eating any fruit or vegetable is better than none! On the other hand, eating more servings of fruits and veggies than you’re required can provide your body with more vitamins, as opposed to overeating unhealthy foods which could just harm you body.

While it may be fine for you to eat 3 bananas and 4 carrots a day, it’s important to eat colors from all over the spectrum so you can get the range of vitamins and minerals that are provided for you naturally in plants.  Choose plants from different color groups to benefit you body in these specific ways:

Green fruits and vegetables:
– Maintain healthy vision (Vitamin A)
– Maintain bones and teeth (Calcium)
Examples include kiwi, asparagus, spinach, green pears, avocados, okra, peas, broccoli, and bok choy.

Red fruits and vegetables:
– Maintain a healthy heart
– Help memory function
– Maintain urinary tract health
Examples include red apples, red peppers, beets, tomatoes, red grapes, and pomegranates.

Yellow/Orange fruits and vegetables:
– Maintain a healthy heart
– Maintain healthy vision
– Strengthen the immune system (Vitamin C)
Examples include yellow apples, carrots, apricots, oranges, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins.

White/Tan/Brown fruits and vegetables:
– Maintain a healthy heart
– Helps keep cholesterol levels healthy
Examples include dates, dried figs, bananas, Asian pears, leeks, onions, garlic, cauliflower, jicama, quince, and mushrooms.

Blue/Purple fruits and vegetables:
– Help with memory function
– Maintain healthy aging
– Maintain urinary tract health
Examples include dried plums, raisins, Zante currants, blueberries, eggplants, and purple cabbage.

Remember, those benefits are only the minimum, because nutritional value varies from plant to plant.  For example, red apples and kiwi also contain a good dose of Vitamin C.  All plant foods, regardless of color, contain fiber to help clean the digestive system and keep you feeling full.  Many also have antioxidants to help reduce the risk of some cancers.  With so many benefits from eating a rainbow of colors, don’t settle for a dull and boring plate.  Add color to your diet and your body will thank you!

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2 Responses to “Nutrition Facts: Eat a Rainbow”

  1. Betsey J says:

    in addition to your great post, here is an awesome list of which fruits & veggies you should buy organic.


  2. artiffact artiffact says:

    thanks for that! you’re ahead of the game because that will be another post….check back soon!


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