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  • By Akshata Nayak MSACN, MS

Eating A Colorful Plate

Everyone has heard about how five servings of fruits and vegetables are important for your health. If you want to maximize your nutrient intake, it is just as critical to make sure you eat a variety of foods to make up those servings. The colors of vegetables and fruits give you an indication of the nutrients available within. The bioavailability of these components in a whole food is higher than supplements and eating many colors daily is the key to making meals your multivitamin source.

· Red fruits and vegetables are rich in lycopene, ellagic acid, quercitin and hesperidin which may function to reduce the risk of certain cancers, control blood pressure fluctuations and lower LDL cholesterol levels. Vitamins A and C, both powerful antioxidants, help scavenge harmful free radicals, maintain joint tissue and improve cardiovascular health.

· Orange and yellow produce contains flavonoids, beta-carotene, lycopene, potassium and vitamins A and C, all vital in supporting immune function and collagen formation. These nutrients also reduce LDL cholesterol and work with magnesium and calcium to sustain bone density.

· Dark green vegetables and fruits are concentrated with chlorophyll, lutein, calcium, magnesium, folate, vitamin C and beta-carotene. These may help reduce the risk of certain cancers and lower blood pressure. Green leafy vegetables also support our cardiovascular and digestive systems by regulating HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) and by normalizing intestinal motility. Their magnesium and vitamin content also plays an instrumental role in our immune system and retinal health.

· Blue and purple foods contain lutein, resveratrol, vitamin C, flavonoids and quercitin. These nutrients assist with mineral absorption, digestion and immune function. They also act as anti-carcinogens, thereby limiting the activity of cancer cells, and fight inflammation.

· White fruits and vegetables include potassium, beta-glucans, lignans and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which are powerful immune boosters and help to balance hormone levels.

While making a more colorful plate, always keep the following points in mind.

· Eating the same foods repeatedly can cause your body to start reacting adversely to them, especially if you have any underlying inflammatory issues. Therefore, as we have mentioned previously, variety is key!

· Given the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables, it is vital to remember that frozen produce is a great alternative to get your nutrients.

Since the first leap can seem daunting to some, planning small steps can make it easier to include more foods into your dietary realm.

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