"National Nutrition Month is an annual campaign sponsored by the American Dietetic Association to promote nutrition awareness and education. It originated in 1973 as 'National Nutrition Week' and expanded to the month-long observance in 1980 in response to growing public interest in nutrition. The theme changes each year, but it always focuses on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits." -quoted from the American Dietetic Association website.
Let's go through the different colors of fruits and vegetables.
Red - the color comes from lycopene or anthocyanins. Lycopene has been shows to help reduce the risk of some types of cancer. Anthocyanins are a powerful antioxidant and are linked with keeping our hearts healthy. Foods in the red family - beets, cherries, tomatoes, red peppers, red cabbage, strawberries, rhubarb, radishes and red potatoes.
Orange/yellow - carotenoids bring the pigment to the foods in this group. Beta-carotene is converted into Vit A which is vital for healthy mucous membranes and eyes. Carotenoid rich food improves immune system function, and helps to reduce risk of cancer. Citrus foods are rich in Vitamin C and folate. Orange/yellow foods - apricots, carrots, pears, peaches, butternut squash, persimmons, pineapple, pumpkin, rutabagas, yellow squash, sweet potatoes, etc.
Green foods - they obtain their rich color from chlorophyll. Dark green leafy veggies also contain lutein. When you mix colors together they will synergize, leading to more health benefits. The zeaxanthin found in the red foods with the lutein may help to reduce the risk of cataracts and age related macular degeneration. Green foods - artichokes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, kiwi, avocados, peas, limes, green onions, etc.
Blue/purple - obtain their color from anthocyanins, which are powerful antioxidants. Studies have shown that eating blueberries is linked with improved memory function and healthy aging. Blue/purple foods - blackberries, blueberries, eggplants, figs, plums, prunes, raisins, etc
White foods - are colored by anthoxanthins which contain allicin. Allicin has been shown to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, along with reducing risk of stomach cancer and heart disease. White foods - banana, cauliflower, garlic, mushrooms, onion, potatoes, turnips, jicama, etc
Look at nature; it is full of a wide range of colors mixed together. We need to be doing the same on our plates at each meal. The different colors of fruits and veggies will interact with each other allowing more health benefit than if you just ate a single color. Make it a game and see how many colors you can get on your plate a night, try foods you have never had before. I often challenge children to go to the grocery store with their parents and to pick out 4 new fruits and vegetables in each color group to try.