As we plan to make changes to prevent illness and improve our current state of health, we know that fruits and vegetables are good for us to eat. Many people are unsure about their choices and wonder if they are eating the right amounts. Current dietary recommendations advise us to have half our plate with fruit and vegetables at each meal. When in doubt regarding food choices, select a variety of fruits and vegetables of different colours.
Choose dark leafy greens as they are full of vitamins and minerals while providing fibre to improve digestion. Spinach, kale, mustard greens and broccoli are ideal options. Most leafy greens are also good sources of vitamin K and calcium to help promote blood and bone health. Adding a generous serving of leafy greens to your dinner plate or to your smoothie is a quick way to include the nutritional benefits of green foods to your day.
Select purple/red fruits and vegetables as an excellent source of disease-fighting antioxidants. Some examples include strawberries, blueberries and cherries. Purple/red foods provide vitamin C which boosts the function of our immune system. Also many studies reveal cranberries and tomatoes have anti-cancer properties – specifically the lycopene in tomatoes has been shown to protect against some types of cancer. Add chopped tomatoes to your favorite pasta dish or a few strawberries to your nonfat yogurt to improve the nutritional benefit of your meal/snack.
Reach for orange/yellow fruits and vegetables to promote healthy skin, teeth and bones. Some examples include bananas, carrots, summer squash, persimmons and pumpkin. Orange/yellow fruits and vegetables are often abundant in vitamin A and beta-carotene, important for night vision and for protecting the skin from sun damage.
Here are some ways to add a variety of colour to your meals:
- Sauté your own medley of vegetables using each colour
- Make a rainbow fruit salad (orange, kiwi, grapes, pineapple)
- Create a confetti coleslaw (chop sweet yellow peppers, shred red and green cabbage and grate carrot)
- Select a variety of dried fruits and add your favorite nuts for a colourful anytime snack
Adding a variety of colour provides you with a broad range of nutrients and it adds visual appeal to your meals. Have fun adding a spectrum of colours to your plate.