March is National Nutrition Month
While the trees may be bare in March, there are still plenty of colorful and nutritious foods to fill your plate. During the 2011 National Nutrition Month®, the American Dietetic Association encourages everyone to add color and nutrients to your meals through this year’s theme: “Eat Right with Color.”
“Adding a splash of colorful seasonal foods to your plate makes for more than just a festive meal. A rainbow of foods creates a palette of nutrients, each with a different bundle of potential benefits for a healthful eating plan,” says registered dietitian and ADA Spokesperson Karen Ansel.
“Healthy eating includes more than counting calories alone. In fact, most children don’t get enough of all the essential nutrients critical to normal growth and development,” says Ansel.
“Food variety supplies different nutrients, so to maximize the nutritional value of your meal, include healthful choices in a variety of colors.”
Ansel offers ways to brighten up your plate in every season with this quick color guide.
Green produce indicates antioxidant potential and may help promote healthy vision and reduce cancer risks.
- Fruits: avocado, apples, grapes, honeydew, kiwi and lime
- Vegetables: artichoke, asparagus, broccoli, green beans, green peppers and leafy greens such as spinach
Orange and deep yellow fruits and vegetables contain nutrients that promote healthy vision and immunity, and reduce the risk of some cancers.
- Fruits: apricot, cantaloupe, grapefruit, mango, papaya, peach and pineapple
- Vegetables: carrots, yellow pepper, yellow corn and sweet potatoes
Purple and blue options may have antioxidant and anti-aging benefits and may help with memory, urinary tract health and reduced cancer risks.
- Fruits: blackberries, blueberries, plums, raisins
- Vegetables: eggplant, purple cabbage, purple-fleshed potato
Red indicates produce that may help maintain a healthy heart, vision, immunity and may reduce cancer risks.
- Fruits: cherries, cranberries, pomegranate, red/pink grape fruit, red grapes and watermelon
- Vegetables: beets, red onions, red peppers, red potatoes, rhubarb and tomatoes
White, tan and brown foods sometimes contain nutrients that may promote heart health and reduce cancer risks.
- Fruits: banana, brown pear, dates and white peaches
- Vegetables: cauliflower, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, turnips, white-fleshed potato and white corn
Ansel recommends choosing a variety of colors when shopping for seasonal fruits and vegetables. “And for additional options in the color palette, choose frozen or dried fruits and vegetables available throughout the year,” she says.
“Instead of grilled chicken and mashed potatoes, consider painting a more colorful plate, such as grilled chicken topped with salsa, mashed sweet potato, asparagus and spinach salad with orange slices. A colorful meal is not only visually appealing, but it also contains a variety of nutrients and is quite flavorful,” Ansel says.
For more information on how to “Eat Right with Color,” visit ADA’s National Nutrition Month website for a variety of helpful tips, fun games, promotional tools and nutrition education resources.