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What Color is Your Food?

As spring becomes summer, nature begins to burst into color with green grass, and budding gardens and flowers. Let the colors of nature be a guide to choosing foods for a healthful diet.
What Color is Your Food?

Photo used under license from www.istockphoto.com

About half of our plate should be made up of fruits and vegetables, according to the latest nutrition advice at www.choosemyplate.gov. Fill the other half of your plate with grains and protein, and add a side of dairy or other calcium-rich food. Most adults need at least 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables per day to meet their nutrition needs.

Try this activity.  What fruits and vegetables did you eat yesterday that were naturally these colors?

  • Red
  • Orange
  • Yellow/gold
  • Green
  • Blue/purple
  • White

Are you eating a rainbow of colors? Which ones are you missing ?

Harvest the Health Benefits

Fruits and vegetables provide us with vitamins, minerals and “phytochemicals” (natural plant chemicals). These are a few examples of natural plant colorants and their health benefits:

  • Lycopene is found in red fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, pink grapefruit and watermelon.This natural plant chemical may help prevent certain types of cancer and heart disease.
  • Beta-carotene is found in orange, gold and some green fruits and vegetables such as apricots, mangoes, cantaloupe, pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots, squash, spinach, kale and broccoli. This helps keep our skin, bones, vision and immune system healthy.
  • Anthocyanins are found in blueberries, blackberries, plums, cranberries, raspberries, red cabbage, red and black grapes, red onions, red potatoes, strawberries and other foods. They act as “antioxidants” and protect our cells from damage and diseases, including cancer.

Enjoy Fruits and Vegetables Every Day!

Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

Featured in Food Wi$e May 2013

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