Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Eating Well
A variety of colors make the best meals
Melissa Bess, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Camden County, University of Missouri Extension
It doesn’t have to be difficult to add a colorful variety of different fruits and vegetables to your daily meals. The rainbow of colorful fruits and vegetables provide us with different nutrients. Almost all fruits and vegetables are good sources of fiber, which helps keep us regular and lowers cholesterol, as well as different antioxidants, which help decrease risk for many different diseases and cancer.
Colorful vegetables should fill half your plate at lunch and dinner. Try some new vegetables instead of the same old routine. Try spinach instead of iceberg lettuce, mashed sweet potatoes instead of mashed white potatoes or try a new fruit for dessert.
- Green vegetables have vitamin C to keep skin and gums healthy and vitamin A for healthy vision. Some also contain vitamin K, calcium and magnesium to keep bones healthy, and potassium to maintain healthy blood pressure. Examples of green fruits and vegetables include grapes, apples, honeydew, kiwi, avocadoes, broccoli, spinach, green peppers and asparagus.
- Orange fruits and vegetables have vitamin A in the form of beta carotene, which helps promote healthy vision, and some also contain potassium, magnesium and vitamin K. Examples of orange fruits and vegetables are carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, peaches, cantaloupe and grapefruit.
- Blue and purple fruits and vegetables have vitamin C, potassium, vitamin K and magnesium in differing amounts. Examples include blueberries, blackberries, plums, eggplant and purple cabbage.
- Reds fruits and vegetables may contain vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium and magnesium. Some red vegetables are protective against prostate cancer. Red fruits and vegetables are cherries, cranberries, raspberries, pomegranates, red grapes, watermelon, tomatoes, red peppers and beets.
- White, yellow and brown fruits and vegetables include corn, yellow peppers, cauliflower, mushrooms, onions, bananas and pineapple. The nutrients in these foods include vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium and magnesium in various amounts.
Try to add color to your plate with seasonal fruits and vegetables. For instance, add blueberries and strawberries to your oatmeal, using frozen berries if they aren’t in season. Instead of a plain turkey sandwich for lunch, add spinach and tomato to the sandwich, and serve it with sliced carrots and green pepper strips instead of potato chips. For dinner, try baked fish with broccoli, mashed sweet potatoes and peaches or sliced apples for dessert. For a weekend meal that will please anyone, use leftover vegetables from the week to make a vegetable beef soup. If you are eating a salad, add many different colorful vegetables (or even fruit pieces) for a variety of vitamins and minerals.
If you have questions or ideas for future articles, please contact Melissa Bess at 573-346-2644 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or come by the Camden County Extension Center at 44 Roofener St., Camdenton.
Last update: Friday, March 25, 2011