As part of the Check It! Challenge, which is an initiative UHS is sponsoring along with the American Heart Association to help everyone in the Southern Tier be more mindful of their blood pressure, we’re covering a different health topic every month. This month it’s “Eat Smart and Add Color,” and UHS clinical dietitian Jaclyn Zindell, MHA, RD, CDN, has given some great advice about adding more colorful fruits and vegetables to your diet.
In a diet that is balanced, roughly half of your plate should be made up of fruits and vegetables, with a protein (like meat or fish) and complex carbohydrates (like whole grain breads and pasta) making up the other half of the meal. This approach keeps blood pressure down because “fruits and vegetables are naturally low in sodium, they are not processed and are a great source of fiber,” says Ms. Zindell.
In addition, she urges everyone to eat fruits and vegetables in a range of colors. “Each color is a marker for vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can boost your immune system,” says Ms. Zindell.
There are plenty of ways to add fruits or vegetables to your current recipes, such as adding finely shredded carrots to meatloaf or spaghetti sauce, or butternut squash to chili. It might also be a great reason to try a vegetable that is new to you. If something like a large squash seems intimidating, look for recipes and cooking tips on online videos. They can show you how to roast it or break it into manageable chunks.
Add Some Color to Your Plate!
Eat at least one item from each color category every day—it can help lower your blood pressure and offers other health benefits. Here are a few healthy options from each category:
- Red—tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit—lowers prostate cancer risk and blood pressure.
- White—garlic, leeks, white onions—reduces blood pressure and cholesterol; lowers risk of heart attack.
- Blue—blackberries, blueberries, purple grapes—lowers risk of cancer, heart disease, and age-related memory loss.
- Yellow—apricots, cantaloupe, peaches, pineapple, yellow peppers—reduces risk of cancer and heart disease and keeps skin, bones and teeth healthy.
- Green—broccoli, green peas, leafy greens, cauliflower, cabbage—helps maintain good vision and reduces risk of breast and prostate cancer.