Sometimes when we think we cannot accomplish a goal, we have a tendency to give up. After all, why try to do something that is thought to be impossible. The USDA recommends that we eat 3-5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day, but only 33 percent of Americans are reaching this goal. This may make the goal seem impossible. What if we are a picky eater? What if we do not like kale or blueberries? Can we still achieve a healthy and balanced diet?
The answer is yes! You do not need to love the latest super food or the healthiest of vegetables to get the nutrients your body needs to thrive. Simply add some color to your diet.
Most of the nutrients in fruits and vegetables can be separated into color groups, so all you have to do is pick a couple of foods from each group to add to your weekly food intake.
The green fruits and vegetables have amazing benefits from lutein, zeaxanthin and indoles that help age-related macular degeneration as well as speed up the enzymes that break down carcinogens. These greens also strengthen bones and teeth.
Green fruits and vegetables include: kiwi, honeydew, avocado, zucchini, celery, asparagus, edamame, peas
I have separated out the green leafy vegetables from the other green fruits and vegetables because of the health benefits and disease prevention provided by this specific group. These vegetables also contain a lot of fiber, vitamins and minerals. It is very important to include green leafy vegetables in your diet on a daily basis.
Green leafy vegetables include: kale, spinach, collards, Swiss chard, mustard greens broccoli, romaine lettuce, cabbage and iceberg lettuce (although this last one is mostly water).
Blue and Purple
This category of colored fruits and vegetables contain anthocyanins, phenolics and resveratrol that help prevent the risk of cancer, stroke and heart disease. These nutritious fruits and vegetables also help improve memory and promote healthy aging.
Blue and purple fruits and vegetables include: purple cabbage, blackberries, blueberries, grapes, eggplants, and plums.
Red vegetables and fruits contain lycopene and anthocyanins which helps to neutralize free radicals that can cause cancers and other harmful diseases.
Red fruits and vegetables include: tomatoes, grapefruit, watermelon, strawberries, raspberries, beets, radishes, red peppers, rhubarb, cherries, cranberries and red apples.
Orange and Yellow
This color of produce contains carotenoids and bioflavonoids that help maintain the immune system, slow aging, as well as prevent cancer. Carotenoids are also thought to improve eye health.
Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables include: cantaloupe, corn, pineapple, pumpkin, apricots, oranges, tangerines, orange and yellow peppers, and mangoes.
White fruits and vegetables contain anthoxanthins that may help lower blood pressure and reduce risk for heart disease. These also contain allicin which has been shown to reduce the risk of stomach cancers.
White fruits and vegetables include: bananas, mushrooms, onions, garlic, potatoes, cauliflower, parsnips and turnips.
So why not pick out one or two items from each color category and add them to your diet? You do not need to love all fruits and vegetables or even the most popular produce to obtain the nutrients you need. Simply pick and eat the ones you enjoy to live a healthy, happy life.
Originally posted 2013-10-29 10:44:10.