Tuesday, March 1, 2011

March is National Nutrition Month!

All About ‘Eating Right With Color’

There are a lot of efforts out there to educate people about nutrition and what it means to ‘eat right.’ While it can sometimes be challenging to sort through all the information, the American Dietetic Association has established March National Nutrition Month to inform individuals about the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. So here we go, on a month-long journey to explore nutrition, and improve our diets, one fruit and veggie at a time!

This year’s Nutrition Month focuses on ‘Eating Right With Color,’ emphasizing the multitude of nutritional benefits gained by eating a colorful diet full of fruits and veggies. According to Dr. David Herber, author of What Color is Your Diet?, not all members of the fruit and veggie groups are alike, and it’s important to consume a wide variety of produce items to fulfill your body’s nutritional requirements. Here is Dr. Herber’s color breakdown, which can be used as a guide in choosing colorful foods for health:

Red Group
(tomatoes, pink grapefruit, watermelon)

These contain the carotenoid lycopene, which helps rid the body of free radicals that damage genes. Lycopene seems to protect against prostate cancer as well as heart and lung disease.

Yellow/Green Group
(spinach greens, collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, yellow corn, green peas, avocado, honeydew melon)

These are sources of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. These are believed to reduce the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Lutein is a yellow-green substance that concentrates in the back of your eye. It may also reduce atherosclerosis.

Orange Group
(carrots, mangos, apricots, cantaloupes, pumpkin, acorn squash, winter squash, sweet potatoes)

These contain alpha carotene, which protects against cancer. They also contain beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. It protects the skin against free-radical damage and helps repair damaged DNA. Beta-carotene is also good for night vision.

Orange/Yellow Group
(pineapple, orange juice, oranges, tangerines, peaches, papayas, nectarines)

These contain beta cryptothanxin, which helps cells in the body communicate and may help prevent heart disease. Also, an orange contains 170 percent of the recommended daily vitamin C.

Red/Purple Group
(beets, eggplant, purple grapes, red wine, grape juice, prunes, cranberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, red apples)

These are loaded with powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins believed to protect against heart disease by preventing blood clots. They may also delay the aging of cells in the body. There is some evidence they may help delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease.

Green Group
(broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, Chinese cabbage or bok choi, kale)

These contain the chemicals sulforaphane and isocyanate and they also contain indoles, all of which help ward off cancer by inhibiting carcinogens.

White/Green Group
(leeks, scallions, garlic, onions, celery, pears, white wine, endive, chives)

The onion family contains allicin, which has antitumor properties. Other foods in this group contain antioxidant flavonoids like quercetin and kaempferol.

A member of the red/purple group, cherries and tart cherry juice offer a multitude of health benefits and important antioxidants. Enjoyed either dried, frozen cherries or cherry juice, it has been shown that cherries have among the highest levels of disease-fighting antioxidants, when compared to other fruits. They also contain other important nutrients such as beta carotene (19 times more than blueberries or strawberries) vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, iron, fiber and folate.

Do you eat for color? What does ‘good nutrition’ mean to you? Participate in this week’s facebook challenge for the chance to  win a cheribundi gift basket! http://www.facebook.com/cheribundi

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