Friday, July 1, 2016

4 Key Reasons to Eat a Variety of Colorful Fruits and Veggies Each Day

For optimum health, top nutrition minds advise us to eat a variety of at least 5 to 9 servings of color-rich vegetables, legumes, beans, nuts, seeds, and fruit a day. Brightly colored low-fat plant-based whole foods aren't just visually appealing. They are nature's way of highlighting a broad range of nutrients that are key to good health. In its original state, each vegetable or fruit is low in saturated fat, pleasing to the palette, fills us up, but doesn’t make us feel overstuffed. 

Here are 4 Key Reasons to  Eat a Variety of Colorful  Fruits and Veggies Each Day

1. Prevents or Reduces the Severity of Disease. When we consume ample amounts of a combination of cooked (lightly steamed or baked without oil) and uncooked color rich produce daily, research shows that our food choices put us on a healthy track toward preventing heart disease, some types of cancer, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, stroke and birth defects. Educate yourself about each ingredient you want to eat. For example, determine if it’s more healthful to eat broccoli raw or cooked from Dr. Michael Greger’s Nutrition Facts blog at See the latest research and video links about a wealth of additional vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and nuts and seeds there too. Also check out the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI), a scoring system that rates foods on a scale from 1 to 1000 based on nutrient content. ANDI scores are calculated by evaluating an extensive range of micronutrients, including vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidant capacities. Healthy Eating and the ANDI Index.

Happy Woman Who Eats Many Colorful Vegetables and Fruits Each Day!

2. Improves Our Mood and Sense of Well-being. A recent study, conducted by Bonnie Beezhold of the University of Arizona and Carol S. Johnston, published February 14, 2012 in Nutrition Journal indicates that "Restricting meat, fish, and poultry improved some domains of short-term mood state in modern omnivores. To our knowledge, this is the first trial to examine the impact of restricting meat, fish, and poultry on mood state in omnivores." It's interesting to note that the study showed that several mood scores for VEG participants improved significantly after two weeks. Wouldn't you know it? When we feel good about our self-care we look good and vice versa.

3. Stabilizes Weight by allowing us to feel satisfied after eating a meal, without cravings to load up on excess calories or resort to eating junk foods and processed products that are high salt, high sugar, high fat, and chemically enhanced (and often contribute to weight gain and/or poor health). See this documented guide from Kaiser Permanente for more about a Healthier Way to Eat. 

4. Provides Essential Vitamins, Minerals, Nutrients, Fiber, and Antioxidants that help us function at peak levels. When we eat a wide range of colorful low fat whole plant-based foods daily, we please our taste buds and satisfy hunger as we ingest plant-based protein, complex carbohydrates, water, healthy fat, minerals, vitamins, and nutrients our body needs to maintain health, energy, and even increase longevity. For best results, combine healthy eating with a active lifestyle that includes elements like exercise, relaxation, sound sleep, social connections, and abstention from smoking and alcohol consumption.

To maximize the variety of vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and antioxidants we eat in our food, plan to consume at least two different colored vegetables and fruits with each meal. Shop at a nearby market, health food store, farmer's market, or pick veggies and fruits fresh from your garden. Select only those that are in-season, unprocessed whole plant-based foods to get the most bang for your buck. They are less expensive and haven't traveled long distances to get to the market and your table. Don't eat the same ones every day, as you need to vary your selection to cover all your nutritional bases. I've listed many of the tastiest ones, and truth be told, those that I love a lot.

RED tomatoes, raspberries, strawberries, beets, red grapes, red pepper, watermelon, cherries, red kidney beans, red apples

BLUE/PURPLE blueberries, blackberries, black olives, purple figs, plums, black beans, red cabbage (purple), eggplant

YELLOW/ORANGE summer and winter squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, apricots, cantaloupe, lemon, grapefruit, oranges

GREEN spinach, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, collards, chard, kale, broccoli, lentils, kiwi, dark leafy salad greens, avocado, parsley

WHITE/GREEN onions, garlic, pears, celery, endive, asparagus, leeks, mushrooms, cauliflower, quinoa

Eat at least two portions of a combination of red, orange, yellow, green, purple/blue, and white fruits or vegetables at each meal. This eating style provides plentiful fiber, protein, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants for total wellness. Look at the fruit and veggie grid below for more ideas.

Do you have any tips for eating more fruits and veggies? What are your go-to veggies and fruits? Are you willing to try new ones to up your health quotient as well as make your mouth water? Please comment below. Share with others, if you like what you see. 

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