Are Your Colors Alive This Spring?

The brilliant colors of spring are coming alive here in the desert.  How about taking the colorful adventure into your kitchen?  Colorful plant foods contain important vitamins and minerals, fiber, protective phytochemicals and antioxidants that help prevent disease and promote good health.  Most of us are familiar with the “5 A Day” campaign, however, only 20% of Americans are getting enough fruits and vegetables daily.  Did you know that 35% of cancers could be prevented by eating 5 fruits and vegetables daily?  Phytochemicals are what give color to foods.  They work together to promote good immune function by fighting viruses and bacteria, as well as removing toxins from the body. 

Red foods contain lycopene and anthocyanins with promote heart and urinary tract health, enhance memory, and decrease certain cancers.  Examples are: Tomatoes, red peppers, radishes, cherries, strawberries, pomegranates, cranberries.

Yellow-Orange foods contain carotenoids and flavonoids which promote heart and vision health, and healthy immune function.  Examples are: grapefruit, oranges, lemons, mangos, nectarines, peaches, cantaloupe, apricots, papayas, pineapple, squash, carrots, yellow peppers, pumpkin, sweet potatoes.

Yellow-Green foods contain lutein and indoles which promote strong bones, teeth, and vision.  Examples are:  broccoli, sprouts, green onions, celery, spinach, zucchini, peas, cabbage, cucumbers, asparagus, green grapes, honeydew, kiwi, limes, green pears,

White-Green foods contain allicin and allyl sulfides which promote heart health such as cholesterol and lower certain cancer risks.  Examples are: mushrooms, cauliflower, shallots, onions, chives, garlic, leeks, bananas, brown pears,

Blue-Purple foods contain anthocyanins and phenolics which promote memory and urinary tract health.  Examples are: blueberries, blackberries, purple grapes, currents, plums, raisins, figs, egg plant, red cabbage.

The goal is to eat 5 different colors per day.  A serving consist of 1 cup of fresh, ½ cup cooked, or ¼ cup dried fruits and vegetables. So, get started by adding fruit to your cereal, oatmeal, yogurt parfaits, and smoothies.  Add veggies to your pastas, soups, salads, sandwiches, and snack bags.  When given the choice, choose deeper, darker colors.  There are more vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals in foods that have a richer appearance.  For example Romaine lettuce offers more Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and iron than Iceberg lettuce. 

After an exploration of colorful flowers, continue that colorful journey to the produce section of the supermarket.  Spend a little more time than usual discovering new fruits and vegetables and the benefit will be magnificent.

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