March is National Nutrition month, and this year the American Dietetic Association reminds everyone that an easy way to focus on eating better is to "Eat Right with Color," which is this year's theme.
The theme encourages consumers to remember to include a colorful variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and dairy on their plates every day.
"Healthy eating includes more than counting calories alone. In fact, most children don't get enough of all the essential nutrients critical to normal growth and development," says registered dietitian and ADA spokesperson Karen Ansel. "Food variety supplies different nutrients, so to maximize the nutritional value of your meal, include healthful choices in a variety of colors."
Green produce indicates antioxidant potential and may help promote healthy vision and reduce cancer risks. Fruits such as avocado, apples, grapes, honeydew, kiwi and lime are examples, as are artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, green beans, green peppers and leafy greens such as spinach.
Orange and deep yellow fruits and vegetables contain nutrients that promote healthy vision and immunity, and reduce the risk of some cancers.
Purple and blue options may have antioxidant and anti-aging benefits and may help with memory, urinary tract health and reduced cancer risks. Blackberries and blueberries, eggplant and purple cabbage belong to this group.
Red indicates produce that may help maintain a healthy heart, vision, immunity and may also reduce cancer risks. Cherries, red grapes and watermelon, beets, red peppers and tomatoes are examples.
White, tan and brown foods sometimes contain nutrients that may promote heart health.
"Instead of grilled chicken and mashed potatoes, consider painting a more colorful plate, such as grilled chicken topped with salsa, mashed sweet potato, asparagus and spinach salad with orange slices. A colorful meal is not only visually appealing, but it also contains a variety of nutrients and is quite flavorful," Ansel says.