Fruit and Vegetable Selection Key for Maximum Benefits

( [email protected] ) Mar 31, 2004 03:46 PM EST

A recent study has found that while many people may be eating the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables, most are not eating the fruits and vegetables that contain the most nutrients.

Most ‘confused’ about nutrition

The researchers, who published their findings in the March issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, have said that people are concerned, though confused, about nutrition, often not optimizing the nutritional benefits of what they eat.

The results show that most Americans recognize a healthy diet should include at least five daily servings of fruits and vegetables. However, scientists also found people aren't selecting the most nutritious fruits and vegetables because they're given conflicting information about which ones provide the greatest health benefits.

Scientists advise that the most popular fruits and vegetables—corn, potatoes, iceberg lettuce, apples and bananas—are not as rich in nutrients as other similar choices.

Color codes are key

In their report, the researchers offer color-coded suggestions for improving nutritional intake from fruits and vegetables:

• White: Eat cauliflower more often than potatoes, onions and mushrooms.

• Green: Eat more dark lettuces, such as romaine and red leaf lettuce, spinach, broccoli and brussels sprouts instead of iceberg lettuce and green beans.

• Yellow/orange: Instead of corn or bananas, eat more carrots, winter squashes, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, oranges and grapefruit.

• Red: Choose tomatoes, red peppers and strawberries over apples.


1. M. S. Nanney; Brownson, R.C., Haire-Joshu, D., Hessler, K., “Rationale for a Consistent “Powerhouse” Approach to Vegetable and Fruit Messages,” Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 2004: 104: 3.