Fruits and vegetables are low in calories, high in fiber, and jam-packed with essential vitamins and minerals.
Color your plate healthy
By Mary Schroeder
eNews, January 26, 2006
Our world is surrounded by color: blue sky, green grass, white clouds, and red fire trucks. Everywhere you look there's color.
Think of your favorite grocery store. What department has the most color? Why, the produce department, of course! No matter what time of year, the produce department is filled with vibrant reds, greens, oranges, purples, and yellows.
In addition to vitamins, minerals, and fiber, fruits and vegetables contain phytochemicals--compounds that may protect us from disease. (Examples of phytochemicals include anthocyanins, phenolics, lutein, indoles, flavonoids, and carotenoids like lycopene.) The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 recommends we choose from all five vegetable subgroups (dark green, orange, legumes, starchy vegetables, and other vegetables) several times a week, and that most people eat two cups of fruit and two and a half cups of vegetables per day.
Here are some examples of how to add color to your plate with fruits and vegetables:
- Top pancakes with strawberries.
- Drink a glass of juice, instead of pop or soda.
- Add some tomatoes and dark green leafy lettuce or spinach to your sandwiches. Or try new combinations: shredded carrots on a tuna salad or sliced red grapes in a chicken salad sandwich.
- Top white meats such as chicken, turkey, or pork with a warm cranberry or raspberry sauce instead of gravy.
- Serve baked apples, sliced watermelon, grilled peaches, or red and green grapes topped with a yogurt sauce for dessert.
- Choose a salad or fresh fruit, instead of French fries and cookies, when eating out.
- Top a baked potato with salsa or broccoli.
To learn more about the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables, see "Eat 5 to 9 a Day." For a copy of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005, visit www.healthierus.gov. Mary Schroeder is a health and nutrition educator with the University of Minnesota Extension Service Regional Center in Marshall, Minnesota.