Food for Though: Aside from the nutrients and other beneficial parts of food, color counts when consuming calories

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Robert Obst

E-mail:rcobst@radford.edu

Beginning a healthy lifestyle can be overwhelming. Do I count carbohydrates? Do I count calories? Where exactly should I start? These are all very common questions asked by people who want to get their eating habits on track.

To make things much easier for everyone, try eating with color. The first thing people eat with is their eyes and nose. How does the food look? Does it smell good? These are the basic senses that begin to stimulate your salivary glands and let your body know it is time to eat.

An expansive array of colors on your plate means there are extensive amounts of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants there. Karen Ansel, a registered dietician and an American Dietetics Association spokesperson recommended “Adding a splash of colorful seasonal foods to your plate [to make] for more than just a festive meal. A rainbow of foods creates a palette of nutrients, each with a different bundle of potential benefits for a healthful eating plan.”

Each color has its own benefits. Green fruits and vegetables indicate antioxidant potential and may help promote healthy vision and reduce the risk of cancer.  Foods that fall into this category are: avocado, apples, grapes, honeydew, kiwi, lime, artichoke, asparagus, broccoli, green beans, green peppers and leafy greens such as spinach.

Orange and deep yellow fruits and vegetables promote healthy vision, immunity and reduce the risk of some cancers. Examples of these would be: apricot, cantaloupe, grapefruit, mango, papaya, peach, pineapple, carrots, yellow pepper, yellow corn and sweet potatoes.

The last color that would be great to incorporate into your daily meals is red. Red indicates produce that may help maintain a healthy heart, vision, immunity and may reducethe risk of cancer. So incorporate some of the following: cherries, cranberries, pomegranate, red/pink grape fruit, red grapes, watermelon, beets, red onions, red peppers, red potatoes, rhubarb and tomatoes.

Instead of the typical grilled chicken with mashed potatoes and corn, incorporate a fresh salsa for the chicken, with roasted sweet potatoes and a salad topped with colorful fruits and vegetables. It will not only be beneficial to your mind and body, it will excite your taste buds.

So, “Food for Thought,” don’t just stick to the same old foods. Next time you’re thinking, “what should I make for dinner?” Eat the rainbow, for your health!