Plant foods offer a wide variety of vitamins and minerals but they also offer a diverse package of phytonutrients which are associated with a variety of health benefits. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that we consume at least one half of our plate from fruits and vegetables and slightly more than a fourth of the plate from grains. This push to boost plant foods is based on research that shows that the phytonutrients seem to help prevent heart disease, some forms of cancers, diabetes and that they may aid in memory retention.
What this means to your eating plan is that you need to focus on adding vegetables, fruits and grains to your meals and snacks so that your daily intake of fruits is about two cups, your vegetable intake about 3 cups and your grains makeup a smaller amount of your meal. Maximize the health benefits of produce by choosing darkly colored or strongly flavored fruits and vegetables like the following;
* Eggplant, blackberries, blueberries, purple potatoes
* Carrots, cantaloupe, apricots, mango, yellow peppers, sweet potatoes
* Brussels Sprouts, green peppers, leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli
* Cherries, cranberries, strawberries, red peppers, tomatoes
* Dates, cauliflower, onions, parsnips, white corn, garlic
Connie Diekman, M.Ed., RD, CSSD, LD