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3.04.2012

National Nutrition Month 2012

"Get Your Plate In Shape" is the theme for March 2012. The campaign focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits (EatRight.org).

We should be balancing what we eat with fitness and movement. But it's important to "taste the rainbow" by incorporating color onto your plate with fruit and vegetables:

REDS: colored by natural plant pigments called lycopene. Lycopene which is found in tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit may reduce certain cancers, like prostrate cancer. Anthocyanins in strawberries, raspberries, red grapes contain antioxidants that protect skin cells. Also eat apples, cabbage, pomegranates, and cherries.

ORANGE & YELLOW: Colored by carotenoids and rich in beta-carotene and Vitamin A, pumpkins, carrots, sweet potato promote healthy eyes, maintain healthy mucous levels and may improve immune system overall. Plus it improves overall appearance of your skin! Citrus fruit like oranges and lemons are a great source of Vitamin C and folate. Try yellow watermelon, butternut squash and apricots.

BLUE/PURPLE: "The darker the berry, the sweeter the juice." The juice in dark berries(anthocyanins) provide powerful antioxidants that protect cells from damage, reduce stroke and heart disease and may improve memory. Foods from the blue/purple group include eggplant, blackberries, purple grapes and figs.

GREEN: Leafy dark greens, green peppers, celery and spinach contain lutein. Broccoli is an excellent source of folate, a vitamin that is essential in reducing risk of birth defects. Good for you fats found in avocados can be added to salads or topped with olive oil, salt and pepper. Options for green veges include brussel sprouts, asparagus and zucchini.

WHITE: These fruits and vegetables contain allicin which lowers cholesterol and blood pressure. Excellent source of potassium comes from bananas and potatoes. Eat mushroom, cauliflower, turnips and garlic to cleanse blood.

Tips to increase fruits and veges in your diet:
* Add vegetables to casseroles, stews and soups.
* Add lettuce, tomato, onions and peppers to sandwiches.
* Enjoy fruit smoothies for breakfast and green shakes for lunch.
* Bake with fruit purees to reduce fat and increase fiber.

One of my favorite side dishes is a mix of vegetables sauteed with olive oil and garlic. For more nutrition and healthy eating information, go to http://www.foodinsight.org/.

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