Brighten Up Your Plate. How to Add Color into your Diet

By Heather Darling

Be an artist and brighten up your plate for a healthier diet. Here's how!

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​There is more to it than just making your plate look pretty with colorful fruits and veggies- according to a study by the USDA they also give extra antioxidants and many more minerals and vitamins that benefit and protect our bodies. An easy way to check to see if you’re eating a balanced meal is by looking at the colors on your plate, you should have at least three. Always chose fresh fruits and vegetables, if not available or in season frozen is suggested. If necessary, canned foods will do. Here are some ideas for increasing color in foods that will help fight cancer, lower cholesterol and improve your overall health.

Red fruits and vegetables are an important color for many reasons. They tend to promote a healthy heart, boost immunity, and reduce cancer risk and lower arthritis risks by lowering inflammation (Seth, RD., 2012).  Some examples include beets, which are very healing. They contain nitrate, which helps to lower blood pressure, slow down the onset of dementia by improving blood flow to the brain. Cherries are supportive in decreasing inflammation and therefore helpful in lowering the risks of arthritis and heart disease. Tomatoes contain a phytochemical called lycopene, which can help protect men from prostate cancer. Another nice quality of tomatoes is that unlike other foods that loses nutrient value when cooked, the lycopene content increases, so when they are out of season eating tomato sauce , preferable not out of a can, and tomato soup can still give you the benefit.

Antioxidants are so important for our body’s protection. Orange fruits and vegetables are particularly high in beta-carotene a strong antioxidant which gets converted into vitamin A in our bodies. This is necessary for eye sight and preventing vision loss. A serving of one of these orange vegetables, such as  sweet potatoes, also provide potassium which helps lower blood pressure, vitamin C to boost the immune system and fiber to help with weight management.

The yellow tropical fruit, pineapple contains about 131 percent of your daily vitamin C intake and also gives you bromelain, an enzyme that helps with indigestion, reduces inflammation and may prevent heart disease. 

Green vegetables are a great source of protein, vitamin C and vitamin K which all support a healthy immune system. Broccoli and Bok Choy, which are more emerald in color, contain a protein that help the gut and skin function properly. Broccoli contains particularly high levels of protein (3 grams per cup), vitamin C (135 percent of daily value), and vitamin K (116 percent of daily value). The deeper and darker greens like spinach and kale are extremely nutritious. They contain significant amounts of calcium, potassium and vitamins A and K.

The blue fruit, like blueberries contain anthocyanins, which are a phytonutrient known as a superfood and have the ability to reduce risk of macular degeneration, cancer and stroke. Blueberries are also unique because they contain more antioxidants than most other fruits and vegetables and are a good source of vitamins K and C, and fiber.

Grapes, which are a purple fruit, have the antioxidant: resveratrol, which many scientists believe to be a substance that positively influences many different types of cancers and helps in lowering heart disease risks.
Vandana Sheth, RD at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, published in the Mclatchy-Tribune, 2012.