Each March, the American Dietetic Association (ADA) – the nation’s largest group of nutrition professionals – sponsors National Nutrition Month. ADA selects an annual theme that speaks to an important nutritional need among Americans. This year’s theme, “Eat Right with Color,” urges people of all ages to add more colorful fruit and vegetables to their diets.
Brightly colored produce contains plant compounds or phytonutrients that provide a distinctive hue and specific health benefits. Fruits and vegetables also contain essential vitamins, minerals and fiber that may help protect you from chronic conditions including stroke, cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers. For example:
Many yellow and green vegetables are good sources of phytochemicals that may help prevent age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in older people. Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and kale, have compounds that may help prevent cancer.
Orange and deep yellow fruits and vegetables also contain nutrients that promote healthy vision as well as immunity and reduce the risk of some cancers. Alpha- and beta-carotene make foods like carrots and sweet potatoes so brilliantly orange. The body converts these compounds into the active form of vitamin A, which helps keep eyes, bones and immune system healthy.
Purple, blue and deep red fruits and vegetables may have anti-aging benefits and may promote memory and urinary tract health. In addition, they are rich in antioxidants associated with heart and brain health. Tomatoes and watermelon contain lycopene, a phytochemical that may help protect against prostate and breast cancers.
Here are some tips for adding more fruits and vegetables to your daily menu:
- Make a tropical rainbow fruit salad with fruits of each color.
- Sauté your own medley of mixed vegetables using each color.
- Make confetti coleslaw with shredded green and red cabbage, grated carrots, diced zucchini, and finely chopped red and yellow peppers.
- Make a dried fruit and nut mix for snacking. Include dried apples, apricots, cranberries, peaches, pears, cherries and mixed nuts.
- Serve cut fruits and vegetables with low-fat yogurt or hummus.
- Add pizzazz to sandwiches and wraps by adding sliced pineapple, apple, peppers, cucumbers and tomato.
Remember that all forms of fruits and vegetables matter—fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100% juice. With 200+ options and a variety of convenient packaging to make fruits and vegetables easy to store and easy to serve, there’s bound to be something to please everyone!