Monday, March 28, 2011

Give White Foods a Chance

Written by Elizabeth Tankovich
Part of the National Nutrition Month initiative

What do you think of when you hear “eat right with color”?  Foods such as cauliflower and cabbage probably aren’t the first to come to mind; right?  But who said white isn’t a color anyways…it’s actually a blend of all colors!

White foods have been getting a bad rep lately. While it is certainly good to switch to whole grains (whole wheat flour, brown rice, oatmeal, etc.) rather than refined grains as much as possible, not all white foods are bad!  In fact, foods such as onions, garlic, white potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, turnips, parsnips, and pears, and mushrooms contain beneficial pigments called anthoxanthinsAnthoxanthins are types of flavonoids that have antioxidant properties.  What does this all mean?  These foods can help our bodies fight everyday stresses from the environment and from our lifestyles.  Smoking, UV light, radiation, and lack of sleep are all examples of everyday stresses our bodies may encounter.  Foods with this white pigment are just one of the many sources of beneficial antioxidants (coffee, dark chocolate and red wine might be sources you are more familiar with). 

Eat “outside the box” and explore the benefits that food has to offer us; and try to color your plate with foods you may not intuitively think of!.

Cooking tips:
  •           To keep your white vegetables a pretty white when cooking, try adding a squeeze of lemon juice/ other acid!
  •          Steaming, stir-frying, and baking (rather than boiling) minimize loss of anthoxanthins to cooking water 
  •           Prolonged cooking can turn white vegetables a dull yellow!

Bennion, M., Scheule, B. (2010). Introductory Foods. Upper Sattle River, NJ: Pearson Education Inc.

European Food Information Council.  (2010, November). The why, how and consequences of cooking our food. Retrieved from

Untitled photograph of cauliflower.  [Photograph].  Retrieved February 2011 from:

Like this post?  Read more Eat Right With Color posts!  

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