Today’s post is contributed by GMM Community Nutrition Educator/Culinary Specialist, Ashley Van Cise.
Adding a variety of color to my plate is one way that I keep myself on a healthy eating track. By choosing color, I know I’m eating an assortment of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.
Pictured here are foods that I’ve made at home, highlighting some of my attempts to add color to my own plate. I’ve called out the phytochemicals that correlate to the color and the potential health benefits of each one.
Cherry Tomato and Basil Pasta Salad – check out the bright red and yellow tomatoes. These tomatoes have concentrated amounts of lycopene which have been studied for their ability to protect against heart disease and cancer.
Blueberry Oat Bran Muffins – focus your eye on the blueberries in these muffins. Their blue/purple color comes from a type of flavonoid called anthocyanins, which can act like antioxidants, reduce inflammation and combat against cancer cells.
Black Bean Chili with Sweet Potatoes and Swiss Chard – Notice the orange going on here. Sweet potatoes are high in beta carotene which is a type of carotenoid that may protect against heart disease. The beans also contain flavonoids that can decrease inflammation and protect against heart disease, stroke and cancer.
Roasted BBQ Chicken, Quinoa Pilaf and Arugula Salad with Radish and Carrots – There are a several healthy things going on in this picture. First, let me highlight the arugula which contains lutein, a type of carotenoid that can work to maintain healthy vision and protect eyes from cataracts and macular degeneration. Also notice the red radish, these contain anthocyanins, which I mentioned when discussing the blueberries found in the Oat Bran Muffins.
Grilled Vegetables topped with Fresh Basil – Check out those onions. Even though onions are white, they are high in a flavonoid called quercetin which works as an antioxidant to decrease inflammation and protect the body against heart disease, stroke and certain types of cancer.
The way phytochemicals work and the optimum amounts for consuming are still being researched. Your goals should be to incorporate 5-9 servings of colorful fruits and veggies daily.
What is the most colorful food on your plate today?