Eat Right With Color – Why it’s important and how to do it

Thinking about the color of the food we eat can encourage us to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables every day. Doing this will not only make our meals and snacks more colorful and fun, but it will also give them greater health boosting properties. This is because compounds that give fruits and vegetables their colors provide powerful health benefits that have been shown to play a critical role in preventing and fighting many diseases. The American Dietetic Association provides this quick fruit and vegetable color guide:

Green - indicates antioxidant potential and may help promote healthy vision and reduce cancer risks.

Orange and deep yellow - contain nutrients that promote healthy vision and immunity, and reduce the risk of some cancers.

Purple and blue – have antioxidant and anti-aging benefits and may help with memory, urinary tract health and reduced cancer risks.

Red - may help maintain a healthy heart, vision, immunity and may reduce cancer risks.

White, tan/cream-colored and brown - sometimes contain nutrients that may promote heart health and reduce cancer risks.

Here are 10 tips to boost your health by making your plate more colorful (and flavourful!) – strive for as many seasonal, local and organic choices as possible.

  1. Eat at least one dark green and one orange vegetable each day.
  2. Enjoy soups often – it might be a broth soup with lots of vegetables or a soup made from pureed vegetables, such as squash, broccoli, carrot or red pepper.
  3. Keep frozen peas, beans, or mixed vegetables in the freezer to steam as part of a meal or for a quick addition to stews, stir-fries, chillies, or soups.
  4. Make a fruit salad at least once a week with a mix of different fruits such as apples, berries, peaches, pears, papaya, kiwi or pineapple. Add a splash of lemon juice to keep it fresh. Having it ready and available in the fridge will ensure it gets eaten.
  5. Keep a variety of raw vegetables cut and washed in the fridge for quick snacks. The choices are endless – carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, peppers of any color, radishes, cherry tomatoes and snow peas.
  6. Mix berries into plain yogurt, add some cinnamon and honey if desired. Add grated vegetables, such as carrot, zucchini, beets, to muffins and cakes.
  7. Whirl up a smoothie using ½ cup (125 mL) almond milk, a 6 oz. (175 mL) container of plain yogurt, and ½ cup (125 mL) mixed berries in a blender.
  8. Pack fruit and vegetables to take for snacks or lunch every day. Wash and cut in advance, and carry in small plastic bags or containers. This preparation will help increase the odds that it will get eaten rather than traveling back home.
  9. Try different vegetable combinations to make a stir-fry more exciting: Use green vegetables like broccoli, celery, green beans and green peppers. Try a 3-pepper stir-fry with red, green and yellow peppers. Make it Asian-style with Chinese broccoli, bok choy, and water chestnuts. Use your imagination.
  10. Enhance bottled or canned tomato sauces with extra vegetables such as peppers, carrots, broccoli, onions or zucchini. Grating them finely into the sauce can sometimes get them past children who might not be eating many vegetables.

Colorful meals and snacks will satisfy your taste buds and improve your health!

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