The other day I was talking with my Mother (she lives in Michigan) and she was telling me that my three sisters volunteered to do her spring cleaning this year! Thinking about my Mom’s spring cleaning plan gave me the idea for this newsletter, why not spring clean our diets too? When I think of spring I always visualize the abundance of color after a long winter (remember I’m from Michigan!), and what better way to spring clean your diet than by adding a lot of color to every meal.
Studies have shown that we eat with our eyes and the colors of fruits and veggies are very pleasing to the eye. Eating a variety of fruits and veggies every day will provide you with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Vitamins are organic components in food that are needed in small amounts for growth and maintaining good health. Minerals are inorganic nutrients found in foods that are essential for growth and health too. The term “phyto” originated from a Greek word meaning plant, phytonutrients are organic components of plants, and these components are thought to promote human health. Let’s look at some of the colors and see what they do for us.
White fruits and vegetables, such as garlic, ginger, mushrooms, onions, bananas, and white peaches provide you with vitamin A, C, allicin and quercetin. These are important for circulation, bone health, and immune boosting activity. Green fruits and vegetables include leafy greens, green pepper, green onions, artichokes, asparagus, avocados, and kiwifruit provide vitamin A, C, folate, lutein, calcium, fiber, and beta carotene all important for healthy cells, lungs, liver and eye health. The color red provides us with lycopene for healthy cells and scavenges harmful free-radicals. Some springtime examples would be: blood oranges, papaya, strawberries, beets, radish, radicchio and rhubarb. Think heart and artery health with blue/purple fruits and veggies: blueberries, purple Belgium endive, and purple potato. Last, but not least, the orange/yellow fruits and veggies which contain beta carotene, flavonoids, lycopene, potassium, and vitamin C are necessary for our vision, immune system, and growth & development.
The USDA guidelines suggest we eat two-plus servings of fruit and three-plus servings of vegetables per day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports only 32.5% of Americans consumer two or more servings of fruits per day, and 26.3% consume three or more servings of vegetables per day. To help you “spring clean” your diet consume more fruits and vegetables, which are naturally cholesterol free, low in fat, low in calories, and high in fiber. The weather’s great, so why not take advantage of your local farmer’s market or produce section of your favorite market and see how many colors you can consume on a daily basis to help you spring clean your diet?