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FROM ATTIC TO BASEMENT: Use color to guide healthy food choices |

Vegetables, market illustration (copy)

Think about the last meal or snack you ate. Was is mainly tan/beige or was it full of bright colors found in nature? If you think about it, many of the foods that come from a factory or restaurant packaged in a box or wrapper are tan or beige in color. On the other hand, fruits and vegetables come in a wide range of colors, and when properly stored and prepared, contain all of the vitamins and minerals that Mother Nature intended. Vitamins and minerals, however, are only part of the story. Phytochemicals, also known as phytonutrients, are naturally occurring plant chemicals that help provide the bright colors, strong aromas, and flavors that protect plants from pests. Research is showing that these compounds may also help promote good health.

So, what is so important about an eating pattern that is full of brightly colored fruits and vegetables? Color is an indicator that a fruit or vegetable is rich in certain vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Many people only include a few fruits and vegetables in their regular diet, but a rainbow of colors provides a broader range of nutrients. Research is beginning to show that combined compounds work together to provide powerful protection for our health, and that the combination provides a greater benefit than any one nutrient alone.

Each of the colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and even brown, white, and black contain different combinations of nutrients that can help prevent or slow the progress of chronic diseases such, as high blood pressure, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. The list below outlines some of the benefits of the different fruit and vegetable color groupings.