Colorful vegetables fruits

The Treasure at the End of The Rainbow

     by  Seethalakshmi Seshabhushan Nagaraja MS BS BE RDN                                                                              Published on August 14, 2018 | Updated on January 29, 2020

Let’s be honest, how many different vegetables and fruits do you eat in a week? Many of us make choices based on what our children like. If you live in a country like India, budget friendly vegetables that are in season and available in the local market end up on your plate.

If planned well, this could mean a plate that is brown, yellow, green, white, orange, purple and may be a bit of red. Let’s take a look at the rainbow of colors that nature offers us and the healthy treasure at the end of it. The colors of vegetables and fruits aren’t just visually beautiful, this is true natural beauty with substance. Adding a dash of vibrant color to every meal and snack has multiple advantages - it is fun, makes the food attractive to all age groups and boosts nutrition benefits. It is important to keep in mind that in addition to the phytochemical specific health benefits mentioned in the table below, vegetables and fruits are also rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber.

What are phytochemicals?

Phytochemicals aren’t carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, or minerals and don’t provide energy. They are compounds found in plant based foods that have biological activity in the healthy human body, also commonly referred to as phytonutrients. The phytochemical composition of vegetables and fruits changes based on the variety of the vegetable or fruit, the season that it is harvested, during the ripening process, with the method of cooking and other types of food processing.

What are the health benefits of eating a variety of colorful vegetables and fruits?

As you can see, mother was right about finishing all your veggies and fruits. Colorful fruits and vegetables are a winning combination of great taste, beauty and good health. Try some today.

Are you wondering how much to eat?

According to the DGA 2015 - 2020, here are the daily recommendations for vegetables and fruits based on daily calorie goals

Note….

  1. c = cup-equivalent, kcal – kilocalories commonly referred to as calories
  2. Examples of 1 cup-equivalent -

• 1 cup raw/cooked vegetable or fruit
• 1/2 cup dried vegetable or fruit
• 1 cup vegetable or fruit juice
• 2 cups leafy salad greens

3.  Examples of vegetables -

• Dark-green vegetables –

i. all fresh, frozen and canned dark-green leafy vegetables and broccoli
ii. cooked or raw – broccoli, spinach, kale, romaine, kale, collard, turnip, and mustard greens

• Red and orange vegetables –

i. all fresh, frozen and canned red and orange vegetables or juice
ii. cooked or raw – tomatoes, tomato juice, red peppers, carrots, sweet peppers, winter squash, and pumpkin

• Beans and peas –

i. all cooked from dry or canned beans and peas –

o rajma, chickpeas (chole), moong beans,
o lentils (tuvar, moong, chana, masoor, urad)
o cannellini beans, pinto beans, split peas, white beans, black beans,
o edamame (soy beans)
o doesn’t include green beans or green pea

4.  Food intake patterns at -

• 1000 kcal, 1200 kcal and 1400 kcal are designed to meet the nutritional needs of most children (age 2 to 8 years)
• 1600 kcal to 3200 kcal are designed to meet the nutritional needs of children, adolescents, youth and adults (age 9+ years)

5.  Please use the food nutrition database on www.fitnspicyliving.com to get more information and educate yourself.

Reference

  1. Khoo H-E, Prasad KN, Kong K-W, Jiang Y, Ismail A. Carotenoids and Their Isomers Color Pigments in Fruits and Vegetables. Molecules. 2011.
  2. Nutrition Australia. Eat a rainbow. www.nutritionaustralia.org/national/resource/eat-rainbow . Accessed February 9, 2018.
  3. European Food Information Council. Healthy Living. www.eufic.org/en/healthy-living/article/the-science-behind-superfoods-are-they-really-super . Accessed February 9, 2018.
  4. USDA. ChooseMyPlate. 10 Tips Kid-friendly Veggies and Fruits. www.choosemyplate.gov/ten-tips-kid-friendly-veggies-and-fruits . Accessed January 29, 2020.
  5. ODPHP. 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans website. www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines . Accessed February 7, 2018.
  6. Whitney E, Rolfes SR. Understanding Nutrition.15th ed.

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