Summer is here! Let the eating of colorful summer fruits and vegetables begin. The red strawberries, blue blueberries, and green spinach - eating fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors help our senior receive a broad range of nutrients. Enjoying our meals begins with our eyes; color and presentation play a big part on how we initially perceive the food we are about to eat.
Fruits and vegetables generally contain little fat, cholesterol or sodium and provide complex carbohydrates, fiber, and nutrients - all necessary to stay healthy. Most are low in calories, although, yes, fruit does contain sugar. However, it is a natural sugar as opposed to refined sugar, which can cause abrupt fluctuations in your blood sugar level. Different colors indicate different nutrient profiles. Our kitchen managers are busy creating new menus with the goal of getting a little of each color in your diet every day to maximize the nutritional benefits
Eating three to five servings of fruits and vegetables is the daily recommendation. So, cherry jubilee, corn on the cob or spring mixed salad greens, anyone?
What types of nutrition is obtain by eating our colors? According to Julie Garden-Robinson, a food and nutrition specialist at North Dakota State University:
Red fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes or watermelon contain lycopene. Lycopene is linked to the reduced risk of many cancers.
Orange and Yellow fruits and vegetables contain carotenoids. Carotenoids enhanced immune function, improved visual properties, and decreased risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
Green vegetables are known for their chlorophyll. Chlorophyll studies show it can keep eyes safe from oxidative stress and may help decrease the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
Blue and Purple fruits and vegetables are rich with anthocyanins which are powerful antioxidants that protect cells from damage. It may reduce risk of cancer, stroke, and heart disease.
White fruits and vegetables are colored with the pigment anthoxanthins. Anthoxanthins may contain health-promoting chemicals such as allicin which reduces blood pressure and cholesterol. It may also help reduce cardiovascular disease and reduce risk of stomach cancer.