Eat Your (White) Vegetables!

Everyone knows that once the Spring is in the air, we can welcome back our white wardrobes. Why wait till Memorial Day? Fashion experts have assured us that we are not breaking the law if we slip into those white jeans today!

But there’s a better way to get the benefits of white year-round by putting it in your body instead of on it! We’re often told to “eat a rainbow” and we aim for the guideline that says the more color a food has, the better it is. However, color is just one indicator of nutrient content. Produce that wears white could be just as valuable. In fact, some white vegetables contribute substantial quantities of nutrients that we seem to be missing most often (also known as shortfall nutrients) like potassium, magnesium, and fiber.

Here’s how to wear white in a way that is truly one size fits all:

Cauliflower. Move over kale… this veggie has been deemed one of the hottest trends of the year. Along with the other members of the cruciferous family, like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts, cauliflower contains sulfur compounds that are associated with fighting cancer, strengthening bone tissue, and maintaining healthy blood vessels.

Mushrooms. Get ready for this list: Mushrooms are low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol-free, gluten-free, with barely any sodium, and yet they carry a wealth of selenium, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin D. Mushrooms are also hearty and filling so they can help you control your weight without compromising taste. And they’re a rich source of umami, the fifth basic taste after sweet, salty, bitter and sour. They can help simple dishes come alive.

Garlic. In my house, all I have to do is sauté garlic to draw hubby and the kids to my kitchen! Aside from tasting great, garlic has been touted as being able to help hair grow, cause acne to disappear, and keep colds and flu at bay. Its antioxidant properties can help boost your immune system and 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. Chef Julia Child said, “I cannot imagine a world without onions,” and for good reason. The anti-inflammatory chemical in onions, called quercetin, can help ease discomfort from arthritis, and quercetin’s beneficial properties have been associated with a lower risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and a stronger immune system.

Potatoes. 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, a whopping 941 mg of potassium and 3.6 g fiber. (A banana, also white in color, 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.

(Full disclosure: Bonnie Taub-Dix consults with the Alliance for Potato Research & Education to provide nutritional information about potatoes.)

Follow Bonnie’s Nutrition Intuition blog here!

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