It’s almost Memorial Day, a day when we remember those who have died in service to the United States of America. Some folks celebrate by displaying the flag and embellishing their homes with red, white and blue decorations. Thinking along that theme, why not decorate your breakfast, lunch and dinner plates with red, white and blue vegetables?
The color of vegetables may give a hint of their nutritional value. For instance, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests that adults consume, over the course of one week, 5 and ½ cups of red and orange vegetables.
Unfortunately, no age group is meeting this recommendation. The age groups that area closest are boys and girls ages 1 to 3 and ages 4 to 8. The next age group close, but still not meeting the goal, is girls ages 9 to 13.
Red and orange vegetables include tomatoes, red peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, acorn, butternut and Hubbard squash. They have large amounts of Vitamin A, C and the carotenoids, which are antioxidants. Antioxidants help to gobble up something called free radicals or byproducts of the process oxidation. Oxidation happens all the time in our body’s cells, creating lots of free radicals. In addition to our bodies’ normal work, free radicals can come from ultraviolet radiation, air pollution and tobacco smoke.
Vitamin A helps form and maintain healthy skin, teeth, soft tissue, membranes and skin. So if you want healthy skin, eat red orange vegetables.
Vitamin C also promotes health teeth and gums; it helps the body absorb iron and promotes wound healing.
Potassium and Vitamin K are in red orange vegetables. Potassium helps with regulation blood pressure, and vitamin K helps in blood clotting. Although they are not the super foods sources of potassium, ranging in providing 6-14% of our Daily Value, and 20% and under of Vitamin K’s Daily Value, it all adds up!
It is important to find ways to eat more red orange vegetables! To balance the red, white and blue vegetable plate, look for white cauliflower, turnips and mushroom. Red cabbage, blue onions and purple eggplant.
Get creative this Memorial Day. Try this recipe to boost the veggie consumption of red and orange vegetables!
Easy Summer Salad with Red, White and Blue Vegetables
1 red onion (peeled and cut into small cubes)
2 tomatoes (cut into small cubes)
¼ head of red cabbage sliced thinly
1 cups of mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
black pepper ( to taste)
Add onions, tomatoes, red cabbage, mushrooms and garlic in a large bowl. Stir in lemon juice, salt, and pepper until well mixed. Chill for 1 hour before serving.
Mary Ehret is the Penn State Extension Nutrition Links Supervisor in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, Carbon, Sullivan and Bradford counties. Reach her at 570-825-1701 or at [email protected]