Written by: Makensie Kincade | Health Promotion Specialist at Allianz TotalLife Fitness Center | AdvantageHealth Corporation
Who doesn’t love incorporating color into their daily routine? Colorful clothing, making your desk look more vibrant and even making our plates a little more colorful too. March is National Nutrition Month so let’s make it fun by adding more colors to our plates. Coloring our plate with various foods can help incorporate more vitamins and minerals, protect against chronic inflammation, gives more volume to your meal which makes you feel more full. Fruits and vegetables containing phytonutrients (a compound that gives plants their rich color, taste and aromas) protect our bodies from chronic disease due to their anti-cancer and anti-heart disease properties.
Read below for fruits and vegetables you can start adding into your daily plate, the phytonutrient it contains and the benefits that come with each color.
The American cancer society recommends 2.5 cups per day of both fruits and vegetables while the U.S. Dietary Guidelines actually recommend even more. U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend 2.5 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit (based on a 2,000 calorie diet).
4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables can be difficult; here are some ways to help make it happen:
Break servings down into smaller portions
Have half your servings in the morning and half at night
Look at your cart when grocery shopping and ask yourself if you have different colors of the rainbow.
Add fruit and vegetables to your snacks or replace snacks with fruits and vegetables.
Buy in bulk with frozen produce.
Variety is important! A study by Karin Michels and Alicja Wolk at Harvard in 2002 done with about 59,000 women concluded that participants who reported regularly consuming 16-17 healthy foods and a 42% lower all-cause mortality compared to women reporting a consumption of 0-8 healthy foods regularly.
Getting started can be difficult when trying to incorporate new things, especially when trying to determine what would be best to incorporate. Start with adding small amounts into your daily routine such as adding spinach to your protein shake or adding a peach cup to your snack. From there, you can continue to add variety by sneaking them into an old recipe or find a new recipe all together with different fruits and vegetables. With so many resources online, you’re bound to find many new and exciting ways to include variety into your diet.
Michels KB, Wolk A. A prospective study of variety of healthy foods and mortality in women. Int J Epidemiol. 2002 Aug;31(4):847-54. doi: 10.1093/ije/31.4.847. PMID: 12177033