Centegra Healthy Living Institute
877-CENTEGRA (877-236-8347)

Welcome spring by coloring your plate

Eat away those winter blues by filling your plate with colorful fruits and vegetables. Not only are they a great source of vitamins, minerals and fiber, they also will provide your body with powerful antioxidants. It is important to eat a variety of colors, since, there is often a different antioxidant associated with each.

Below are some of the commonly used colors of food and their benefits.

Oranges and yellows contain antioxidants phytonutrients carotenoids. Foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe and peppers are abundant in carotenoids, which may protect your body from various cancers and effects of aging. It is important to note that beta-carotene is fat soluble, meaning adding it with healthy fats benefits its absorption.

Greens contain antioxidants phytonutrients lutein and zeaxanthin. Foods like spinach, kale, broccoli and brussel sprouts are part of this group. As with the orange and yellow foods, these foods may help reduce the effects of aging, protect the body from cancers and prevent blockages from occurring in the arteries of the neck. These foods also contain important vitamins and minerals like calcium and folate. The nutrients are better absorbed by the body after being lightly cooked.

Reds contain the antioxidant phytonutrient lycopene. Foods like tomato, pink grapefruit, papaya and peppers are part of this group. Lycopene is better absorbed after being cooked. This antioxidant may help prevent the development of heart disease and several types of cancers, particularly prostate cancer.

Blues and purple contain the antioxidant phytonutrient anthocyanin. Foods like blueberries, grapes, beets, red cabbage and plums are part of this group. The nutrients are protective against several forms of cancer and may help prevent heart disease.

Whites contain the antioxidant phytonutrients allicin. Yes, even garlic and onions contain powerful phytochemicals. They may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Foods like garlic and ginger have additional antibiotic and antifungal properties.

As spring marches in very slowly here in the Midwest, much to our dismay, we can hasten its arrival by adding more color to our plate. Our chance of meeting the daily required nutrients is better, when we add a wide variety of colors to our plate. After all, it’s going to get us fit and ready for all the long awaited spring activities.

Vasanthi Prabhaker
Registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator
Centegra Diabetes Center
Centegra Health System

(815) 356-2384


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