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Are White Foods Nutritionless?


You probably pay attention to the color of the produce you buy, but the shade of the labels on packaged foods may be influencing which items end up in your cart without you realizing it.

In a Cornell University study of 132 students, foods with green calorie labels were perceived to be more healthful than those with red or white labels. And the more participants cared about healthy eating, the more likely they were to fall for the green label.

This isn’t very surprising since many people unconsciously associate the color red with “stop” and green with “go.” Furthermore, a very strong nutrition message nowadays is the more color on your plate, the healthier it will be. Dark leafy greens in particular are in the spotlight, while white foods seem to have become demonized as if they are all lacking nutritional benefits.

That couldn’t be further from the truth, though. Take cauliflower, for example: Just like other cruciferous veggies, it is packed with nutrients, including antioxidants. It is an excellent source of folate, vitamin C, and vitamin K, and a good source of potassium, phosphorous, and magnesium. One half cup cooked provides 1.7 grams of fiber for only 13 calories. Steamed, roasted, mashed with olive oil, or blended into soup, this white food demands attention at your table.

RELATED: Enjoy colorful and white foods in these delicious 40 easy recipes under 400 calories.

Another innocent bystander of color discrimination is the potato. Mind you I am not talking about fried or smothered with butter and sour cream, but rather baked (or microwaved). Rich in potassium, vitamin C, and many other vitamins and minerals, a simple, 6-ounce medium potato (about the size of a computer mouse) has around 161 calories and 3.8 grams fiber, so you can top it off with salsa, mustard, or hummus.

And don’t forget about garlic and onions—both have strong anti-inflammatory properties and are rich in manganese, vitamin C, and B vitamins. Onions are also a good source of chromium, while garlic provides selenium. They can be used with herbs and spices instead of sodium to flavor a dish with minimal calories.

Bottom line: Never judge a book (or food) by its cover.


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