Print Mary Cate Eklund, RD, LDN, LMNT

Spring has sprung! We can start to move on from gloomy winter weather and look forward to more color. Spring is the perfect time to take a look at the color on your plate as well. Adding more pigment to your plate increases the variety of foods you eat and the nutrients your body receives, including phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are a group of naturally occurring compounds found in plant based foods that can provide positive health benefits. One of the most common names for phytonutrients are antioxidants. These compounds can provide protection against cancer and support many of our body’s functions.

Here are some of the common phytonutrients we find in colorful fruits and vegetables:

LYCOPENE- You will find lycopene in red fruits and veggies such as tomatoes, pink grapefruit, red peppers, and watermelon. Lycopene promotes heart health and has shown to be protective against certain cancers.

LUTEIN- Most green foods such as spinach, collard greens, broccoli, and kale contain lutein. This phytonutrient can be found in the macula of the eye. It promotes eye health, heart health, and can also be protective from cancer.

ANTHOCYANINS- You can find this phytonutrient in your blue and purple foods. Examples include, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, red onion, and radishes. Anthocyanins promote vascular health and can be helpful in blood pressure regulation.

BETA-CAROTENE- Foods like sweet potatoes, carrots, winter squash, and cantaloupe contain beta-carotene. This phytonutrient helps support your immune system as well as eye, skin, and bone health.

Adding color to your plate is a great way to get important nutrients that support the different systems in your body. It also promotes healthy meals that are more appealing and fun to eat. So remember to fill your half your plate with colorful fruits and vegetables, and enjoy the benefits!

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