Are you eating enough color?

What color was your dinner last night?  If you don’t remember, you may need to brighten up your dinner plate with more colorful foods.  In addition to a prettier plate, there are health benefits as well.   The amount and type of colorful foods on your plate is a great way to know if you are eating nutrient rich foods.

An easy way to judge the nutrient quality of vegetables and fruits is to consider their dominant colors.  These colors are a reflection of pigments.  Pigments are natural chemical compounds found in plant cells and tissues.  This odd word is actually derived from Latin word for “to paint” (pingere).  Many different pigments exist within every plant and vary between a plant’s fruit, petals, stems or leaves. 

In plants, these pigments reflect different colors and types of nutrients.  Some colors tell us the vegetables are high in antioxidants.  For the plant, these antioxidants help defend the plant against some pests, filter harmful UV-light rays and protect against disease.  Just like in plants, antioxidants that we consume help protect us from disease and maintain cellular health.  Antioxidants are important in helping the body repair damage to cells by free radicals.  Free radical damage is linked to cancer, heart disease, stroke and diseases related to aging.

To learn more about creating a palette of colorful food, check out the blog articles on eating veggies by color.

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