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Not All Fruits, Vegetables Created Equal

Study finds nutrient content varies wildly

FRIDAY, March 26, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Sure, you may be eating the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables each day.

But are you eating the ones that offer the best health benefits?

Most people aren't, says Susie Nanney, acting director of the Obesity Prevention Center at Saint Louis University.

"People aren't eating the fruits and vegetables that contain the most nutrients. People are quite frankly confused about nutrition. I feel their pain," Nanney says in a prepared statement.

Her research, published in the March issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, shows that most Americans recognize a healthy diet should include at least five daily servings of fruits and vegetables.

But Nanney 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.

Nanny advises that the most popular fruits and vegetables -- corn, potatoes, iceberg lettuce, apples and bananas -- are not as rich in nutrients as other choices.

She offers the following 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.

More information

The American Dietetic Association offers food and nutrition information.

SOURCE: Saint Louis University Health Sciences Center, news release, March 2004
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