Red, yellow, purple, green… Just about any color you can think of can be found in nature. But what about on your dinner plate?
The colors of fruits and vegetables have meaning. For example, red fruits offer a different array of nutrients than yellow vegetables. Eating a variety of colors means that you benefit from a broader range of nutrients, and that’s important to your well-being.
The USDA’s Choose My Plate campaign recommends that fruits and vegetables make up at least half of your plate. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables can help prevent heart disease and stroke, control blood pressure, prevent some types of cancer, avoid the intestinal condition known as diverticulitis, and guard against cataracts and macular degeneration, two common causes of vision loss. And while you’re less likely to suffer from these conditions if you eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, in the meantime, you’re going to weigh less and feel better!
I’ve heard people say they don’t want to eat that “rabbit food” or “something growing in their lawn.” But that’s what humans have done for centuries, and the prevalence of this mentality has grown proportionally with our waistlines.
Fruits and vegetables are often plentiful during the summer months, but they’re no less important during the winter months. Does a fresh hothouse tomato taste as good as one from the farmer’s market? To me, not quite. But the good news is that fruits and vegetables are available all year in a variety of forms: fresh, canned, frozen, juiced and dried. And just as there are fruits and vegetables that are in season during the summer, there is winter produce — fruits and vegetable that are grown during the winter in certain regions using hothouses and other methods.
Check out this list of winter fruits and vegetables, and see if there’s something you haven’t tried before:
Bananas, clementines, cranberries, grapes, grapefruit, guava, kiwi, kumquat, lemons, limes, mandarin oranges, oranges, pears, persimmons, pomegranates, tangerines
Artichokes, avocados, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, kale, leeks, lettuce, parsnips, potatoes, radishes, rhubarb, rutabaga, turnips, snow peas, sweet potatoes, watercress, winter squash
Be adventurous. Try something new. Yes, fruits and vegetable are often more expensive than processed foods, but they are also going to make you feel better. And to me, that’s worth the extra cost.
By Paula Bohlen
MS, RD, LDN, LNHA