Don’t discriminate based on their lack of color! From potatoes to cauliflower, here’s why pale-colored veggies still have a place in your diet.
When it comes to fruits and vegetables, how many times have you heard that you should “eat the rainbow“? This is nutrition advice at its most elementary level, and perhaps something that most of us have probably heard since we were children. While this advice exists for good reason to help promote food variety, there is no one perfect food – our bodies require several nutrients to function optimally.
Something that often gets left out of the discussion are white or neutral-colored fruits and vegetables, which are mistakenly thought to be nutritionally devoid or a ‘waste’ of calories.
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
For example, white vegetables are rich in potassium and magnesium. Potassium has been identified as a shortfall nutrient, one that Americans tend not to consume in sufficient amounts and has led to policy changes in fortification laws and school lunch guidelines. Magnesium underconsumption has also been linked to increased chronic disease, making it a mineral of emerging concern.
One study called out potatoes more specifically for their powerful doses of potassium, vitamin C, and fiber, another nutrient of concern in the United States. While potatoes are often maligned in the nutrition world because they are commonly associated with french fries and potato chips, they provide critical nutrients needed in the diet and deserve to also be in the food conversation. They can also be enjoyed in so many versatile ways, including baked, mashed, roasted, sautéed, in latkes or pancake form, and as a hearty soup ingredient.
Potatoes are delicious, cheap, versatile and highly satisfying. So unless you dislike the taste or texture or have some other specific reason to avoid potatoes, there is really no need to stress about enjoying them.
As with anything, it’s important to just not overeat them.
Here are some other pale-colored foods to consider not only for their nutrients, but in how they can add variety to taste and texture:
- Cabbage & Cauliflower. Cruciferous vegetables are hugely trendy right now and are known for boosting our liver’s detoxifying enzymes. This is the legit way to detox by the way, no cleanses necessary. They also provide a strong dose of antioxidants which have been linked to cancer prevention.
- Mushrooms. These are a great plant-based meat replacement option that contains hard-to-come-by vitamin D along with selenium.
- Iceberg lettuce. While it may not pack the same nutritional punch as arugula and other leafy greens, it’s still hydrating, crunchy, and adds freshness to any dish. It’s also a great vehicle for lettuce wraps, with a perfect bowl shape that can hold any filling of your choice.
It’s time to stop overlooking vegetables with less color for all their nutritious goodness.
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Leanne Ray, MS, RDN is a Denver-based Registered Dietitian empowering women to sustain healthy lifestyles that are practical and realistic. By helping others find happiness and joy through delicious foods that don’t involve guilt or stress, she shares how healthy eating can involve satisfaction instead of boring, low-calorie diets. Visit her site to read more from Leanne.