To Your Health: Ride the rainbow

To Your Health: Ride the rainbow By Pam Carter, RD Ride the Rainbow during Cancer Month

Remember when your mother used to tell you to eat your fruits and veggies? Well, she had good reason for doing so.

Most experts agree that five servings of fruits and vegetables per day help maintain good health and may lower the risk of cancer and heart disease. But that�s not all. Consumption of fruits and vegetables may also help you avoid obesity, control blood pressure and cholesterol, guard against macular degeneration, improve memory and even build healthier bones.

The recommended five servings a day of fruits and vegetables has now been increased to at least nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day according to the new U.S. Dietary Guidelines. This could be a challenge considering that the average American gets a total of just three servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Adding fruits and vegetables to your diet doesn�t have to be a challenge; simply �ride the rainbow� to get your nine-a-day.

Red � Red fruits and vegetables contain lycopene which may help prevent prostate cancer. Lycopene is found in processed tomato products such as tomato sauce. Red produce also contains vitamin C to promote heart health and may improve urinary health as well. To rev up red on your plate, select tomatoes, red peppers, strawberries, raspberries, watermelon or apples.

Orange/Yellow � Orange and yellow produce contains vitamin A and beta carotene which promote vision health. They also provide vitamin C and bioflavanoids which contribute to a healthy immune system and healthy heart. To increase orange and yellow in your diet, enjoy more carrots, winter squashes, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, oranges and grapefruit.

Green � Green leafy veggies contain vitamin K and some calcium to help build strong bones and teeth. Some green veggies contain lutein, which helps prevent macular degeneration. They are a source of folate which is important for decreasing risk of heart disease but also for mothers-to-be or women trying to conceive. Go green by selecting more dark lettuces, such as romaine and red leaf lettuce, spinach, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.

Blue/Purple � Blue and purple fruits and veggies are rich in antioxidants such as phenolics and anthocyanins. This color group has been found to lower risk of certain cancers, contribute to healthy aging and promote memory use. Build a blue plate by adding blueberries at breakfast, adding raisins to oatmeal or serving eggplant for dinner.

White � White produce have been found to lower cholesterol and regulate blood pressure. To get your way with white, choose cauliflower, onions, mushrooms and garlic more often.

The bottom line: Eating from the rainbow is clearly an important part of a good diet. Almost everyone can benefit from eating more fruits and vegetables, but variety is as important as quantity. No single fruit or vegetable provides all of the nutrients you need to be healthy. The key is to try and eat a variety of different fruits and vegetables every day.

Hy-Vee registered dietitians are available to the public to answer questions about smart eating. For more information, recipe ideas or to contact your local dietitians, visit and click on health or call toll-free 866-865-4878.

This information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.

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