Most folks know that eating their greens is good for them. But it turns out that fruits and vegetables of every color count when it comes to planning a nutritious diet.
Eating an assortment of colorful produce provides your body with the wide range of vitamins, minerals and nutrients it needs to stay healthy and keep energized.
That's because brightly colored veggies and fruits contain high levels of phytochemicals—natural plant substances that are believed to help fend off heart disease, cancer and the effects of aging.
Produce with the most intense color has the highest level of phytochemicals. Rich red tomatoes and brilliant oranges, for instance, have more of these protective substances than pale iceberg lettuce.
So go ahead and load up your shopping cart with a colorful array of bright fruits and veggies—you'll know you're getting a healthy helping of good nutrition—without having to bother reading those boring nutrition labels!
Eating with Your Eyes
To make it easier to plan a colorful palette for your plate, the Produce for Better Health Foundation has grouped fruits and vegetables into five color groups. Through its "Eat Five a Day the Color Way" program, the foundation suggests you get your five daily servings of fruits and vegetables by eating at least one serving from each of the color groups.
Each group provides different important nutrients. Working the groups into your day is a cinch. Just add an item or two from each group to your meals, then vary your choices from day to day.
For example, greet the morning with a glass of 100% orange juice (from the yellow/orange color group) and breakfast cereal topped with blueberries (the blue/purple group).
For lunch, toss together a spinach salad (the green group) or layer your sandwich with a few tomato slices (the red group).
Come dinnertime, stir sliced mushrooms (white group) into your favorite pasta, add diced carrots (yellow/orange group) to your soup as it simmers or saute zucchini (green group) for a quick side dish.
And if you snack with the color groups in mind, you'll find that it's even easier to get the colorful fare into your day. Simply munch on dried fruit like raisins (blue/purple group), peel a banana (white group) or bite into a crisp apple (red group).
All it takes is a little planning and a visit to your grocer's produce department. In no time, you'll find that the pot of gold at the end of that rainbow of produce is sure to leave you feeling more fit than ever!
Color Yourself Healthy
To get the most health benefits, the Produce for Better Health Foundation recommends that you eat 5-9 servings total from the five color groups every day.
Red: red apples, cherries, cranberries, raspberries, red grapes, strawberries, red pears, watermelon, beets, red peppers, radishes, red onions, red potatoes, rhubarb and tomatoes
Yellow/Orange: yellow apples, apricots, cantaloupe, grapefruit, lemons, nectarines, oranges, peaches, pineapples, tangerines, butternut squash, carrots, yellow peppers, pumpkin, summer squash, sweet corn and sweet potatoes
Blue/Purple: blackberries, blueberries, purple grapes, raisins, plums, dried plums and eggplant
White: bananas, brown pears, cauliflower, garlic, ginger, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, potatoes and turnips
Green: avocados, green apples, green grapes, kiwifruit, honeydew melon, limes, green pears, peas, asparagus, broccoli, celery, cabbage, green beans, brussels sprouts, green pepper, cucumbers, leaf lettuce, spinach and zucchini