Joco Diversions

January 14, 2014

Eating for life — A variety of produce provides a spectrum of nutrients

Spicy Sweet Potato and Black Bean Soup is packed with color and variety.

Do you eat enough greens, purples, reds and oranges? And how much is enough?

For starters, the science is black-and-white: Richly hued fruits and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that can help prevent heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and some cancers.

Yet Americans eat fewer than 20 different fruits and vegetables on a regular basis, and most of us eat only three servings a day rather than the recommended nine to 13 servings.

“Numbers can be daunting to people, but more matters,” says Elizabeth Pivonka, president of Produce for Better Health ( “Half of what you eat in a day should count in the fruit and vegetable category.”

And rather than thinking about individual fruits and vegetables in terms of whether they supply a particular nutrient such as beta carotene or vitamin C, Pivonka encourages eating a wide variety of produce to guarantee you’re getting a broad spectrum of nutrients.

The Star’s Spicy Sweet Potato and Black Bean Soup is packed with color and variety, including vegetables in several forms: fresh (sweet potatoes, carrots, red peppers and onions), frozen (corn) and canned (no salt-added tomatoes).

Substitution savvy: For a vegetarian soup, you may substitute vegetable broth. However, it is difficult to find low-sodium vegetable broth. The most typical brand, Swanson, markets only one type of vegetable broth, which contains 940 milligrams sodium per serving.

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