Choose Colorful Produce for a Healthier Summer

Expert advice from Rebecca Duncan, registered dietician, community health promotion consultant, Highmark Inc.

Jun 28, 2010, 10:47 ET from Highmark Inc.

HARRISBURG, Pa., June 28 /PRNewswire/ -- -- It's official, summer is here. Take advantage of all the fresh foods that summertime has to offer and increase the amount of colorful foods and nutrients in your family's diet this season.

Choose foods according to the rainbow

To feel and look your best, include the colors of the rainbow on your plate. The health-promoting paybacks of eating fruits and vegetables are bountiful. Check out some of these colorful options and learn how you can help boost your vitamin and nutrient intake.

Choose 5-10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day:

  • Reach for the red -- choose from tomatoes, red peppers, apples, pink grapefruit, cherries, watermelon, raspberries, strawberries, kidney beans and red lentils that contain nutrients such as lycopene and ellagic acid, which reduce the risk of prostate cancer, lower blood pressure, reduce tumor growth and LDL cholesterol levels.
  • Opt for orange and yellow with choices like carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, oranges, nectarines, peaches, cantaloupe and yellow peppers that contain beta-carotene, potassium and vitamin C, which reduce the risk of prostate cancer, lower LDL cholesterol and blood pressure and work with magnesium and calcium to support healthy bones.
  • Go for the green -- pick leafy greens, green peppers, broccoli, green beans, peas, green apples, green grapes, kiwi and honeydew, which contain vitamins such as chlorophyll, fiber, vitamin C and calcium that help reduce cancer risk, lower blood pressure and boost immune system activity.  
  • Boost up with blue and purple in foods such as eggplant, purple grapes, plums, raisins, blueberries, blackberries, black currants and purple figs. These pretty fruits and veggies contain vitamin C, fiber and ellagic acid, which support retinal health, lower LDL cholesterol, boost the immune system and support healthy digestion.  Red!

Visit your local farmer's market for a large selection of fresh produce

Did you know that as soon as fruits and vegetables are picked, they begin to degrade? Nutrients are lost while food is shipped, so check out the locally grown crops in your neighborhood for fully flavored, more nutrient rich produce. I recommend visiting to learn more about fresh produce and a local market near you.

Highmark offers a variety of programs to help improve nutrition all year long:

Personal Nutrition Coaching(SM)

This one-on-one counseling service with a registered dietitian is designed to help you make healthy lifestyle and nutrition choices for better health or to address specific concerns such as weight management, heart health and diabetes.

Eat Well for Life(SM) I

This lifestyle improvement program champions optimal health, vitality and long-term weight management through the power of good nutrition. You'll discover easy meal planning tools, smart shopping strategies and healthy ways to cook great tasting foods.

Eat Well for Life(SM) II

Get the inside scoop on balanced meal planning, dining out, listening to your body and making the connection between food and mood. You'll discover new ways to maximize your energy with high quality nutrition and more tools you can use for lifelong health and wellness.

Drop 10 in 10®

This innovative weight management program is designed to help you lose 10 pounds or 10 percent of your weight through a program of balanced nutrition, sensible activity and meaningful lifestyle changes.

Highmark partners with local community centers and hospitals to provide wellness opportunities to members and non-members alike through the Preventive Health Alliance. There is no fee for Highmark members to participate and a nominal fee for non-members. For program locations near you call 1-800-879-2217.

About the expert

Rebecca Duncan received her bachelor of science degree in nutrition from Pennsylvania State University and completed a dietetic internship at the Medical College of Virginia. She has been registered through the American Dietetic Association as a dietitian since 1997 and worked in several clinical areas including general pediatrics, pediatric endocrinology, pediatric weight management and sub specialty outpatient nutrition clinics. Rebecca enjoys creating and delivering presentations related to wellness topics such as disease prevention, general nutrition, vegetarianism and whole foods. She is currently a community health promotion consultant with Highmark Inc.

SOURCE Highmark Inc.