Just as the beautiful fall colors signify the changing of seasons, nature also uses colors to provide hints about the nutritional value of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, beans and legumes.
While color is the clue, the nutritional power is packed into phytonutrients.
“Phytonutrients are active compounds in plants that can have great health benefits,” said Lauren Cornay, Avera Registered Dietitian. “Each phytonutrient has its own unique benefits, so that’s why it’s important to have a colorful diet filled with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.”
Research shows that phytonutrients may have benefits such as prevention against cancer, heart disease and age-related diseases such as macular degeneration. They also may protect against blood clot formation that could lead to heart attack or stroke, lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) and enhance immunity.
Keep in mind that these benefits are in addition to all of the vitamins and minerals found in plant-based foods. “The research surrounding phytonutrients solidifies why fruits and veggies are such an important part of our diets. That’s why we recommend filling half of your plate with them at each meal.”
And the benefits of a colorful diet aren’t only for adults. “It’s really important for kids to try new foods, such as fruits and vegetables, when they’re young.” recommended Cornay.