Karen Collins, MS, RDN, CDN
American Institute for Cancer Research
Q: Is it true that we should eat only deeply colored vegetables and fruits?
A: No. The deep color in vegetables such as deep green broccoli and spinach, orange carrots and sweet potatoes, and red tomatoes is a sign they contain healthful plant compounds called phytochemicals. The color of red and pink grapefruit indicates presence of the healthful compound lycopene that is absent from white grapefruit. However, white produce is valuable, too. Onions, garlic, cauliflower and white mushrooms all provide compounds that seem to inhibit several steps in the process of cancer development. White potatoes provide vitamin C and fiber, as well as other nutrients. The problem is just that many Americans rely on white potatoes for far too great a proportion of their vegetable choices, ignoring others. Aiming for all the colors of the rainbow is one good strategy for choosing vegetables you eat daily, but unlike rainbows in the sky, the rainbow on your plate can include white.
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $96 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.