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March is National Nutrition Month

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Each March, the American Dietetic Association sponsors National Nutrition Month. The campaign focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing healthy eating and physical activity habits.

This year's theme is Eat Right with Color. Consumers are encouraged to include a colorful variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, proteins and dairy on their plates every day.

The recently released 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends an increased focus on a plant-based diet. When many people think about what they will eat, or what they will prepare for a meal, the first thought is the meat. Often, vegetables and fruits are secondary and are skipped or limited in a meal.

Adding a variety of colors of fruits and vegetables to diets not only makes a more interesting and flavorful meal, but helps ensure that all the nutrients needed daily are available.

Here are some tips from the American Dietetic Association for adding different colors of fruits and vegetables to meals.

Green produce indicates antioxidant potential and may help promote healthy vision and reduce cancer risks.

* Fruits: avocado, apples, grapes, honeydew, kiwi and lime.

* Vegetables: artichoke, asparagus, broccoli, green beans, green peppers and leafy greens such as spinach.

Orange and deep yellow fruits and vegetables contain nutrients that promote healthy vision and immunity, and reduce the risk of some cancers.

* Fruits: apricot, cantaloupe, grapefruit, mango, papaya, peach and pineapple

* Vegetables: carrots, yellow pepper, yellow corn and sweet potatoes.

Purple and blue options may have antioxidant and anti-aging benefits and may help with memory, urinary tract health and reduce cancer risks.

* Fruits: blackberries, blueberries, plums, raisins.

* Vegetables: eggplant, purple cabbage, purple-fleshed potato.

Red indicates produce that may help maintain a healthy heart, vision, immunity and may reduce cancer risks.

* Fruits: cherries, cranberries, pomegranate, red/pink grapefruit, red grapes and watermelon.

* Vegetables: beets, red onions, red peppers, red potatoes, rhubarb and tomatoes.

White, tan and brown foods sometimes contain nutrients that may promote heart health and reduce cancer risks.

* Fruits: banana, brown pear, dates and white peaches.

* Vegetables: cauliflower, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, turnips, white-fleshed potato and white corn. Add a new fruit or vegetable to your grocery list this week to put variety, flavor and nutrients into meals. When fresh fruits and vegetables are not in season, choose frozen, dried, or canned.

Editor's Note: Ann Ludlum is a K-State Research and Extension family and consumer sciences and 4-H extension agent assigned to Bourbon County. She may be reached at (620) 223-3720 or aludlum@ksu.edu.

Ann Ludlum
FCS Agent, Southwind District
Editor's Note: Ann Ludlum is a K-State Research and Extension family and consumer sciences and 4-H extension agent assigned to Southwind District -- Fort Scott office. She may be reached at (620) 223-3720 or aludlum@ksu.edu.