LEE ANNE GRACE: Choose food colors carefully for healthy living

By Lee Anne Grace

If your fresh fruit and vegetable purchases are limited to carrots and apples, it may be time to explore the colorful selection available in the produce department.
“Eating the rainbow” is an excellent way to ensure consumption of a wide variety of nutrients and minerals. Myplate.gov recommends one half of your plate at meal time be fruits and vegetables.
Here is a list of possibilities to enjoy as part of your next meal:
• Red vegetables and fruits help maintain immunity and a healthy heart, as well as reduce the risks of developing some cancers. Foods to try in this group include beets, cherries, cranberries, pomegranates, radishes, raspberries, red apples, rhubarb, red bell peppers, strawberries, tomatoes and watermelon.
• Orange vegetables like carrots contain nutrients that promote healthy vision, as well as vitamin C. Other foods in the orange group are apricots, butternut squash, kumquats, mango, nectarine, oranges, peaches, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and tangerines.
• Yellow foods also include vitamin C and nutrients that promote bone health and wound healing. Corn, lemons, passion fruit, pears, pineapple, plantains, starfruit, yellow apples and squash are members of this group.
• Greem leafy vegetables are probably the most concentrated source of nutrition of any food. They are a rich source of minerals and vitamins, including vitamins K, C, E and many of the B vitamins. Green foods include artichokes, arugula, asparagus, avocados, bell peppers, bok choy, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, celery, chard, collard greens, cucumbers, edamame, endive, green apples, green beans, green grapes, green olives, green onions, green pears, honeydew, kiwifruit, leafy greens, leeks, lettuce, limes, okra, peas, snow peas, spinach, sprouts, sugar snap peas, tomatillos, watercress and zucchini.
• Blue and purple vegetables, like eggplant and purple cabbage, contain antioxidants and anti-aging benefits. Consumption of foods from this group may help with memory, urinary tract health and reduce cancer risks. Members of this color group are blueberries, acai, boysenberries, eggplant, figs, purple grapes, plums, radicchio, shallots and turnips.
• White fruits and vegetables include Asian pears, bananas, cauliflower, coconut, garlic, ginger, jicama, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, potatoes, soy beans, white peaches. Consumption of food from this food group promotes heart health and reduces cancer risk.
• Pink fruits include grapefruit, guava and papaya.
Changing eating habits can take time. When I didn’t pay attention to my nutritional intake, I would go days without eating fruits or vegetables. I developed a taste for them by making a commitment to eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day and having a plan to make sure that I did. This plan includes keeping fruits and vegetables in the front of my refrigerator ready to eat, eating veggies with a low-fat dip for snacks, using prepackaged salads and stir-fry mixes to save prep time, having fruit for dessert, and packing fresh fruit for a quick snack.
Children can be finicky eaters, but commitment and patience to good nutrition can slowly develop into a lifelong love for fruits and veggies in even the youngest. Most children need to be offered and see their parents eating a new food up to a dozen times before it becomes familiar. New fruits and vegetables are best served first, while children are still hungry. Encourage your child to taste the new food, then let them decide if they want more. Remember, child portions are much smaller. A reasonable portion is about the size of their own fist.
Additional resources can be found atwww.todayiatearainbow.com. Although this site is geared toward children, much of the nutritional advice is beneficial for adults as well.
How many colors of the rainbow will you eat today?
Lee Anne Grace is an elementary music teacher for Tupelo Public Schools. After reaching a weight of almost 300 pounds and failing at numerous diets for over 25 years, she has been successful at losing weight and maintaining her weight loss for three years.

Click video to hear audio