Each March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) urges Americans to recognize the importance of making informed food and nutrition choices. National Nutrition Month reminds us about the basics of healthy eating.
From my perspective as a dietitian at Bethany Village, I encourage you to add color to your meals. Colorful fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of vitamins and minerals, fiber and phytochemicals not found in other foods. Eating a rainbow of foods will help maximize the nutritional value of a meal.
Here are some tips and a chart to help you make healthy choices – during National Nutrition Month and in the months to come.
- Fresh produce is always a good choice. To save money, look for what’s in season.
- When buying canned vegetables, choose “reduced sodium” or “no salt added” whenever possible.
- Rinse canned beans, corn and peas to reduce sodium levels.
- Dried and frozen fruits and those canned in water or their own juice are good options when fresh varieties are not available.
Fill Half Your Plate with Fruits and Vegetables
Make sure every meal and snack has at least one fruit or vegetable or both.
|Color||Nutrients & Potential Effects||Sources|
|Green||Antioxidants that may help promote healthy vision and reduce cancer risks
|Fruits: avocado, apples, grapes, honeydew, kiwi and lime
Vegetables: artichoke, asparagus, broccoli, green beans, green peppers and leafy greens
|Orange & Deep Yellow||Nutrients that promote healthy vision and immunity and reduce the risk of some cancers
|Fruits: apricot, cantaloupe, grapefruit, mango, papaya, peach and pineapple
Vegetables: carrots, yellow pepper, yellow corn and sweet potatoes
|Purple & Blue||Antioxidants that may offer anti-aging benefits, help with memory and urinary tract health, and reduce cancer risks.
|Fruits: blackberries, blueberries, plums and raisins
Vegetables: eggplant, purple cabbage and purple-fleshed potato
|Red||Nutrients that may help maintain a healthy heart, vision and immunity and may reduce cancer risks
|Fruits: cherries, cranberries, pomegranate, red/pink grape fruit, red grapes and watermelon
Vegetables: beets, red onions, red peppers, red potatoes, rhubarb and tomatoes
|White, Tan & Brown||Nutrients that may promote heart health and reduce cancer risks||Fruits: banana, brown pear, dates and white peaches
Vegetables: cauliflower, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, turnips, white-fleshed potato and white corn
For more information about nutrition, visit: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website www.eatright.org and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website www.choosemyplate.gov provide guidelines, tools and activities to help you “Get your Plate in Shape.”
By focusing on MyPlate, you can make simple changes that have lifetime benefits. Launched in June 2011, MyPlate replaced MyPyramid as the government’s primary food-group symbol. It is an easy-to-understand visual featuring a plate divided into four sections: fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins as well as a glass representing low-fat dairy products. MyPlate is a great tool for helping people remember what foods they should be eating and how much should be on their plate.