With St. Patrick’s Day now behind us, we’re already two and a half months into 2013. How are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions? This column has focused on 13 ways to be healthier in 2013, and every two weeks we’ve looked at one new healthy habit. Making too many drastic changes is usually a recipe for disaster, so this way you can focus on one healthy habit at a time and make gradual, lasting changes. We’ve already looked at sleep, taking the stairs, letting go of little things, drinking water, and trying meatless Mondays. Today, we’re going to examine another healthy habit, tasting the rainbow.
We all know we need to eat more fruits and vegetables each day. In fact, it’s pretty likely that few of us get in our recommended nine total servings on a daily basis. But if you want to stay healthy, boost immunity, and fight off diseases like cancer, it’s a good idea to fill your plate with colorful, healthy foods.
Getting a wide variety of these foods each day ensures that you also get all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals you need for optimal health. Foods that come in red, purple, green, orange, yellow, and blue hues all serve different purposes. And besides, eating the same foods day after day gets boring.
Recently, we looked at some healthy green foods for St. Patrick’s Day, which can protect you against breast, lung, and ovarian cancer. Red foods, like berries, tomatoes, and red grapes, contain lycopene, which can protect you against pancreatic cancer. Yellow and orange foods, such as citrus fruits, papayas, pumpkins, carrots, and sweet potato can protect against stomach cancer. Purple and blue foods like eggplant and berries are also rich in antioxidants.
Make it a point to include fruits and vegetables at every meal and snack. Try a handful of berries on your morning cereal. Nibble on a plate of cherry tomatoes and a mozzarella stick mid-morning. Enjoy a side of carrots and cucumber plus an apple with your lunchtime sandwich. Instead of a sugar bomb from the vending machine, reach for an orange around 3 p.m. Add a spinach salad and a sweet potato alongside lean protein at dinner. As you wind down for the night, munch on a few bites of cantaloupe to quiet your sweet tooth.
When you shop, be on the lookout for new foods and aim to fill your basket with a wide variety. You won’t eat it if you don’t buy it. So bring it home, and plan to set aside a little time to wash and chop your produce each week. Then it’s ready to go when you are. Whenever possible, try to include the richly colored skin of these foods, because that’s where many of the nutrients lie. The more you eat these foods, the better you’ll feel, and the healthier you’ll be.
Talk it up:
What’s your favorite richly-colored fruit or vegetable?
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