Patriotic produce


Nancy Teeter, RDN

Did you wear red, white and/or blue on July 4th to celebrate our country’s independence? You can continue the celebration by eating red, white and blue all month long. Blue and red vegetables and fruits get their color from their health-promoting antioxidants. Listed below are red, white and blue foods to include in your diet all summer long.

Red: Lycopene is a health-promoting antioxidant which gives tomatoes and watermelons their brilliant red color. Research shows lycopene may help to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. In addition, lycopene can neutralize free radicals implicated in heart disease, atherosclerosis, and even breast cancer. Cook and puree tomatoes to maximize bioavailability of lycopene.

White: Despite their pale color, onions are very nutrient-dense. Onions are packed with vitamins, minerals and a multitude of phytonutrients. The allium family of vegetables which include onions, leeks, shallots and garlic are rich in disease-fighting sulfur compounds which have a positive influence on hormones, immunity and gut health. Strive to eat one third cup of chopped allium vegetables each day. Enjoy them in salads, sandwiches, soups, stews and casseroles.

Blue: The intense color of blueberries is provided by an amazing antioxidant known as anthocyanin. Anthocyanins are one of the most widespread families of natural pigments in the plant kingdom. Strawberries, raspberries and ripe bell pepper all get their vibrant red color from this powerful antioxidant. Human studies suggest that anthocyanin helps reduce the risk of heart disease, cognitive decline and cancer. The multiple health benefits of anthocyanin are reason enough to enjoy blueberries (fresh or frozen) year-round, but in addition to awesome anthocyanin, blueberries provide 15 other antioxidants which can enhance your health as part of a diet comprised primarily of nutrient-rich plant foods.

Want to know more? Send me an email at [email protected] if you would like to have a chart which illustrates the color groups, their health benefits and examples of vegetables and fruits in each of the groups.