This regular column addresses topics related to the health of our community.
When you sit down to dinner, what's on your plate? Is it a boring sea of beige? This March, in honor of National Nutrition Month, try to add some color to your meals. Eating colorful foods can enhance your diet with a variety of important nutrients that provide a multitude of health benefits, including lowering cancer risk, slowing aging, lowering risk of heart disease, and building a stronger immune system.
The different colors of food can often be a signal for some of the beneficial nutrients that food contains. If everything on your plate is the same color, you are unlikely to be getting a true variety of nutrients.
Ever notice how the latest "super nutrient" is found in a colorful fruit or vegetable? Or how meals we tend to associate with poor nutritional value tend to consist of various shades of brown? Eating foods in a broad variety of colors helps ensure that you are getting the proper spectrum of nutrients help ward off disease and enhance overall health.
Red, blue, and purple foods such as blueberries, cherries, beets, and eggplant contain a family of chemicals called anthocyanins. These compounds help to give the fruit its rich red color and also serve as antioxidants, helping to protect cells from damage and aging. Some other red foods contain the pigment lycopene. Tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit may be beneficial for reducing the risk of several types of cancer.
Orange and yellow foods pack a big nutritional punch with carotenoids, which are converted to vitamin A. Vitamin A is critical for improving eyesight, bolstering the immune system, and warding off heart disease. Some good yellow or orange sources of carotenoids are apricots, carrots, squash, and cantaloupe. Although they are often orange or yellow, citrus fruits are not good sources of vitamin A. However, they contain vitamin C and folate, which help reduce the risk of birth defects.
Green foods contain a variety of beneficial nutrients that can help you stay healthy and strong. Some examples of nutrient-rich green foods are asparagus, avocados, spinach, and broccoli.
Adding color to your diet is easy, but food coloring doesn't count! To make your plate a collage of color, add fruit on top of your morning cereal or take along some cut veggies for a healthy, colorful, on-the-go snack. Try different fruits and veggies often by experimenting with new recipes.
For more information about incorporating fruits and vegetables into your diet, visit www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov.
For more information about Health Department services, check out our website at www.gethealthycarsoncity.org or visit us on Facebook at Carson City Health and Human Services.
WHAT: Carson City Health and Human Services
WHERE: 900 East Long Street, Carson City
Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Wednesday and Friday, by appointment
Men's Clinic: 4-6 p.m. Mondays. Call for an appointment
Vaccination is the best defense against the flu!
CCHHS offers flu injections or nasal mist for $10. No appointment is necessary.
Immunization Day: 8:30-11:30 a.m.; 1-4:30 p.m. Thursdays. No appointment needed
• Cortney Bloomer and Valerie Cauhape are with Carson City Health and Human Services