Healthy eating is one of the most important components of leading a healthy life. The problem is that ‘eating healthy’ is harder than it sounds. Nowadays, grocery stores are filled with processed foods, preservatives, and empty calories.
There are a few tips and tricks to putting a healthy meal on the dinner table each night. According to MyPlate (the replacement to the food pyramid) the guidelines for a balanced meal should be the following:
- 30% grains
- 30% vegetables
- 20% fruits
- 20% proteins
In addition to this, a meal should include a small serving of dairy, like a glass of milk or fruit cup.
When choosing the foods that you will use to follow these guidelines, remember this – use all the colors of the rainbow!
Foods get their colorings in part from the nutrients that they contain, so eating some of each color will help to ensure that you get a balanced diet of nutrients that will improve the function of many parts of your body. For more information about which nutrients come in which color, see the information below:
Foods: Tomato, Apple, Watermelon, Strawberry, Cherry, Red Pepper
What they Help: Some red foods contain possible nutrients such as flavonoids, lycopene, vitamin C, and folate. These help memory and promote heart health.
Yellow and Orange
Foods: Carrot, Lemon, Orange, Peach, Pineapple, Pumpkin, Sweet Potato, Mango
What they Help: Most orange and yellow foods contain beta-carotene, as well as vitamin A and vitamin C. These aid in eye health, heart health, and support immune functionality.
Foods: Asparagus, Broccoli, Cucumber, Kale, Peas, Spinach, Cabbage
What they Help: Green foods have been a side dish favorite for decades. They are full of nutrients, including vitamin K, omega-3 fatty acids, chlorophyll, and much more. These help many parts of the body, most notably the bones, teeth, and eyes.
Blue and Purple
Foods: Blueberry, Blackberry, Grapes and Raisins, Plums and Prunes, Eggplant, Beets, Beans
What they Help: The delicious foods in blue and purple hues have antioxidants like anthocyanins and proanthocyanins. These are associated with improving heart health and improving brain function.
Foods: Onions and Garlic, Potato, Mushroom, Parsnips and Turnips, Banana, Jicama, Ginger
What they Help: White isn’t technically a part of the rainbow, but it is still an important part of the diet – they contain flavanoids and potassium for heart health and improved cholesterol.
If you need ideas on how you can prepare new dishes that include more color, you don’t have to run out and buy a new cookbook – just check out one of the many recipe resources online, such as allrecipes.com or myrecipes.com.
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Photo credit: plumandjello / Foter /Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)