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What color is your food?

With spring here, nature begins to burst into color with green grass, and budding gardens and flowers. Let the colors of nature be a guide to choosing foods for a healthful diet.

About half of our plate should be made up of fruits and vegetables, according to the latest nutrition advice at www.choosemy Fill the other half of your plate with grains and protein, and add a side of dairy or other calcium-rich food. Most adults need at least 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables per day to meet their nutrition needs.

Try this activity. What fruits and vegetables did you eat yesterday that were naturally these colors? *Red, *Orange, *Yellow/ Gold, *Green, *Blue/Purple, *White. Are you eating a rainbow of colors? Which ones are you missing?

Harvest the                       health benefits

Fruits and vegetables provide us with vitamins, minerals and “phytochemicals” (natural plant chemicals). These are a few examples of natural plant colorants and their health benefits:

* Lycopene is found in red fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, pink grapefruit and watermelon. This natural plant chemical may help prevent certain types of cancer and heart disease.

* Beta-carotene is found in orange, gold and some green fruits and vegetables such as apricots, mangoes, cantaloupe, pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots, squash, spinach, kale and broccoli. This helps keep our skin, bones, vision and immune system healthy.

* Anthocyanins are found in blueberries, blackberries, plums, cranberries, raspberries, red cabbage, red and black grapes, red onions, red potatoes, strawberries and other foods. They act as antioxidants and protect our cells from damage and diseases, including cancer.

Question … picky eaters: My 5-year-old daughter is a picky eater, especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables. My other three kids are good eaters. What can I do?

Be sure not to make eating a “battle of the wills.” Stay calm and be patient. Keep offering a variety of healthful foods. Be sure that your child is not eating or drinking too close to meals. Some kids fill up on milk or juice and have no room for meals or snacks.

Make vegetables and fruits fun by serving them on a special plate or with a favorite dip. Encourage your child to help you in the kitchen. With supervision, young kids can do things such as help wash vegetables; tear lettuce, stir, or set the table. You and your three other children can set a good example during family mealtimes. Your daughter may be asking for seconds of broccoli, too!

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For more information on this topic, contact Luella Morehouse, EFNEP/FNP Education Assistant, NDSU Extension Service Stutsman County, 116 1/2 First Street East, Jamestown, ND, 252-9030 or luella.morehouse