Let Color be Your Guide for Nutritious Meals
March is National Nutrition Month®
NASHVILLE – As Spring color starts to brighten our landscape, remember to fill your plate with colorful and nutritious foods. The state Department of Health is reminding Tennesseans to “Eat Right with Color” during National Nutrition Month® this March by adding colorful fruits and vegetables to meals.
“Adding a splash of colorful fruits and vegetables to your plate makes for more than just a festive meal,” said Health Commissioner Susan R. Cooper, MSN, RN. “A rainbow of foods creates a palette of nutrients, with each food contributing to a healthful eating plan.”
The theme for National Nutrition Month® 2011 is “Eat Right with Color.” Choose a variety of colors when shopping for seasonal fruits and vegetables, and remember the options available throughout the year with frozen or dried fruits and vegetables and 100 percent juice choices. Brighten up your plate in every season with this color guide from the American Dietetic Association:
Green produce indicates antioxidant potential and may promote healthy vision and reduce cancer risks.
• Fruits: avocado, apples, grapes, honeydew, kiwi, lime
• Vegetables: artichoke, asparagus, broccoli, green beans, green peppers, leafy greens such as spinach
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, oranges, peach, pineapple
• Vegetables: carrots, yellow pepper, yellow corn, sweet potatoes
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, grapes
• 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 or pink grapefruit, grapes, watermelon
• Vegetables: beets, red onion, red peppers, red potatoes, rhubarb and tomatoes
White, tan and brown foods may contain nutrients that may promote heart health and reduce cancer risks.
• Fruits: banana, brown pears, dates, white peaches
• Vegetables: cauliflower, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, turnips, potato, white corn
While research shows overall Americans are eating fewer fruits and vegetables than they were in 2000, Tennesseans rank above the national average for eating vegetables. On questions about fruit and vegetable consumption, 33 percent of Tennessee respondents reported they ate vegetables three or more times daily. The results were reported in the 2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data.
Healthful eating includes more than just counting calories. Studies show most children don’t get enough of all the essential nutrients critical to normal growth and development. Food variety supplies different nutrients, so include healthful choices in a variety of colors to maximize the nutritional value of your meal. Look for ways to update family favorites by adding colorful fruits and vegetables; instead of grilled chicken with mashed potatoes, try topping the chicken with fresh salsa and serving mashed sweet potatoes, asparagus and spinach salad with orange slices.
National Nutrition Month® is sponsored by the American Dietetic Association. For more ways to “Eat Right with Color,” visit the ADA website at www.eatright.org/nnm. Find more tips for adding fruits and vegetables to your eating plan and improving nutrition every day, including simple recipes, on the Get Fit Tennessee website www.getfittn.com, or visit www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.com.