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Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Eating Well


Eat right with colorful fruits and vegetables

Tammy Roberts, MS, RD, LD, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Barton County, University of Missouri Extension


The American Dietetic Association is encouraging Americans to “Eat Right With Color.” The most colorful food choices come from fruits and vegetables, which many people don’t eat enough of.


Eating generous portions of fruits and vegetables are a part of maintaining a healthy diet. Healthy eating gives people energy, stamina and can help improve quality of life. People who eat lots of fruits and vegetables are more likely to have a reduced risk of chronic disease including stroke, cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer.


Most adults should consume at least 2½ cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit daily. Fruits and vegetables are a good source of fiber, folate, potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C.


  • Fiber has many benefits including decreased risk of coronary artery disease. An excellent vegetable source of fiber is beans, peas and lentils.


  • Folate is known to help reduce the risk of a woman having a child with a brain or spinal cord defect. Good sources of folate include black-eyed peas, cooked spinach, great northern beans and asparagus.


  • Potassium-rich diets help maintain healthy blood pressure. Good sources of potassium include sweet potatoes, tomato paste and puree, potatoes and bananas.


  • Vitamin A helps keep the skin and eyes healthy and protects against infections. Vitamin A rich foods include dark green and deep yellow fruits, and vegetables like pumpkin, carrots, spinach and cantaloupe.


  • Vitamin C helps heal wounds and cuts and keeps teeth and gums healthy. Good sources of vitamin C include red and green peppers, oranges, strawberries, kiwi, cantaloupe and pineapple.


There is much more to fruits and vegetables than the vitamins and fiber already mentioned — there are also phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are substances produced by plants that promote health. They are believed to slow the aging process and reduce the risk of certain diseases. The color of the fruit or vegetable is an indicator of the phytochemical. Eating a wide variety of color assures a wide variety of healthy phytochemicals.


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Last update: Monday, March 12, 2012