Studies suggest that antioxidants that are plentiful in these deeply colored plant foods can decrease your risk of cancer, heart disease, and complications related to diabetes. Antioxidants boost your immune system and speed up recovery times while decreasing pain and inflammation.
I challenge my clients to eat whole foods (foods that come out of the earth or the animals that eat these plants) of at least 4 different colors at each meal. Why? Because by design, Mother Nature already offers us foods in a variety of colors in season to help us eat for optimum health. This is why all the citrus fruits ripen this time of year. Lemons, oranges, mandarins and grapefruits are packed with vitamin C to help ward of colds and flu this colder time of the year. But I digress…
Back to punching up your holiday meals to infuse color and nutrition. Here is an example of a holiday meal makeover doing just that.
Holiday Meal Makeover
Roast turkey, corn, mashed potatoes, bread rolls & butter. This menu looks a little bland with mostly yellow & white. It covers the basics providing the three macronutrients protein, carbohydrates and fat, but is limited on the amount of micronutrients it provides due to the lack of deep color. (basically some iron, B vitamins and potassium)
Roast turkey (white), sautéed Swiss chard (green), sweet potato mash topped with pecans (orange and brown), and cranberry salad (red). This menu meets the 4 color challenge! It has the macronutrients covered along with greater amounts of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients including calcium, iron, folate, B vitamins, beta-carotene, fiber, vitamin C, magnesium, manganese, and vitamin K, just to name a few. So how do I know what fruits and vegetables are in season for the holidays?
- Visit your local farmers market. They sell foods in season..
- Fruits and vegetables in season at the supermarket are usually the ones on sale due to a larger supply that time of year (Check signage to make sure they are grown in the U.S. and not imported from Mexico or South America.)
- Contact your state Department of Agriculture or look for your state in this online guide from Field to Plate to find what’s in season in your part of the country.
So as you plan your holiday meals this season, adding more color will not only make the meal more eye appealing, but will boost nutrition too! Challenge yourself and your family to plan four different colors at each meal!