“Eat a rainbow” is a phrase nutritionists have been using for years. After all, creating a colorful plate could ensure that you’ll eat a medley of flavors and a wealth of nutrients. But it might be time to think outside the red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet foods in your produce drawer and take a big bite of white.
Why? Well, because, in spite of their attractive colors, veggies don’t seem to be attracting customers. Numerous studies have shown that we are simply not getting enough of them. The Institute of Medicine has found that, in particular, women ages 19 to 50 years old are only consuming 50 percent of the 2.5 cup equivalents per day recommended by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). The 2010 DGA also recommends about 5 cups of starchy vegetables per week, or approximately three-fourths cup per day, as part of a balanced diet.
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To underscore the push for more produce, a new study presented this week at Experimental Biology 2015 also confirmed a minuscule vegetable consumption among women of childbearing age (WCBA). It was pointed out, however, that white potatoes remain as an untapped resource for supplying some essential nutrients that most of us fall short of obtaining, namely potassium and dietary fiber. In our carb-phobic, anti-white food nation, potatoes are often left off the plate, yet this vegetable could play an important role in this population’s diet, particularly among groups with the lowest intake. Not only are potatoes nutrient-rich, they are also well-liked, affordable, and versatile.
Although this study was sponsored by the potato industry, it shouldn’t prevent us from from shining a light on some important facts: Nearly all Americans fail to meet dietary recommendations for potassium (97 percent) or dietary fiber (95 percent). On an equal weight basis, the white potato provides as much fiber as and more potassium than other commonly consumed vegetables or fruit. A medium skin-on baked potato weighs in at just 163 calories, with a whopping 941 mg of potassium and 3.6 g of fiber. Compare that to the banana, which is also white in color and provides 422 mg of potassium and 3.1 grams of fiber. Potatoes also provide vitamin C, vitamin B6, and magnesium, in addition to small amounts of high-quality protein. Choose your potato baked or roasted as a side dish or top with Greek yogurt and chopped veggies and roasted chicken to make it a main.
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Aside from white potatoes, here are a few other delicious ways to include some white tonight:
- Mushrooms are associated with umami, the fifth basic taste after sweet, salty, bitter, and sour. They make savory dishes smile and they’re low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol-free, and gluten-free, with barely any sodium. Plus, they’re are loaded with selenium, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin D.
- Cauliflower is an important member of the cruciferous family, along with broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. Cauliflower contains sulfur compounds that are associated with fighting cancer, strengthening bone tissue, and maintaining healthy blood vessels.
- Garlic brings flavor to any dish along with the benefit of keeping colds and flu at bay since its antioxidant properties can help boost your immune system. To get the most out of garlic’s active chemical, allicin, cut a fresh clove up and expose it to the air for a little while before you cook with it.
- Onions may make you shed tears of joy through the anti-inflammatory chemical within called quercetin. Quercetin’s benefits include easing discomfort from arthritis, as well as reducing risks associated with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and a stronger immune system.
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The bottom line is that color is just one indicator of nutrient content, and remember that white is a color, too.
This article originally appeared on EverydayHealth.com: 5 White Foods You Should Be Eating
By Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RDN, CDN, Everyday Health columnist
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