Eat Right With Color

“Eat Right With Color”
Add a Rainbow of Fruits and Vegetables to Your Daily Diet

As trends indicate, Americans are interested in improving their diets and leading more healthful lifestyles. The American Dietetic Association reminds everyone that an easy way to focus on eating better is to “Eat Right With Color.”

The ADA focuses attention on returning to the basics of healthy eating. This year’s National Nutrition theme encourages consumers to remember to include a colorful variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and dairy on their plates every day. A rainbow of colors creates a variety of nutrients with potential benefits four your health.

In 2005, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) dietary guidelines recommended 2 cups of fruits and 2 ½ cups of vegetables per day for the average 2,000 calorie diet.

Now, consider what you ate yesterday and whether you consumed that many fruits and vegetables. If you came up short, you’re not alone. A 2009 study showed that only 1 out of every 10 Americans are meeting their fruit and vegetable requirements.

Here are some of the benefits associated with eating a range of colorful fruits and vegetables everyday:

• Long-term maintenance of a healthy body weight
• Providing essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function
• Giving you fiber that keeps your digestive tract healthy and helps protect against diseases
• Possible prevention of some types of cancers and chronic diseases

These health effects are possibly even more pronounced when consuming a wide variety of produce, in particular, dark, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, citrus fruits, and deep-yellow-orange fruits and vegetables.

While some people are happy to have a salad and a few pieces of fruit every day, you may prefer to integrate fruits and vegetables into your usual meals. Whether breakfast, lunch, or dinner, it is always possible to add more fruits and vegetables in your diet.

The following are a few examples of how you can incorporate the correct portions of fruits in vegetables into your daily breakfast, lunch and dinner meals.

Breakfast:
• Grab a piece of fruit with your coffee and roll
• Add two handfuls of berries to your cereal or oatmeal
• Add chopped vegetables such as tomato, mushrooms, onion, spinach, or peppers to your scrambled eggs
• Add fresh fruit, such as berries or bananas, to your pancake or French toast recipe.
• Drink a glass of 100% fruit juice, making sure that there is not added sugars or other fillers

Lunch:
• Try topping your sandwiches with fresh vegetables like romaine lettuce or spinach, tomatoes, onions, sprouts, mushrooms, and pepper
• Choose a soup that is full of vegetables such as minestrone or chicken with vegetables
• Bring a handful of baby carrots, celery spears, or pieces of fruit to munch on with your lunch
• Consider adding fruit to your salads, such as apples, pears, or oranges, for a sweet and tangy kick

Dinner:
• Try adding chopped vegetables, such as carrots, mushrooms, or peppers, to mashed potatoes
• Roast vegetables while you cook. Slice some vegetables, such as eggplant, peppers, onions, and sweet potatoes, rubbing them with a little olive oil and spices, and place them on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 F for 30-40 minutes, or until tender, while the rest of your meal is cooking
• If you are in the mood for pizza, cut down on the meats and make sure that it is loaded with different types of vegetables
• If your making Mexican style food, make sure to add beans, peppers, onions, and any other extra vegetable that you have, such as tomato, cilantro, or fresh salsa

By integrating more fruits and vegetables into meals, you will find that you become satisfied with less amounts of food and stay fuller longer. This is because of the fiber, water, and high-nutrient content of the fruits and vegetables.

To adapt a quote from the anthropologist Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed dietary changes can positively change your health. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” So I challenge you to make one of those dietary changes. Start today!

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