Adapted from the Nutrition And You! blog on Boston.com.
White foods have gotten a bum rap as being totally worthless when it comes to providing good nutrition. Granted, white bread and white rice can’t hold a candle to fiber-rich whole grain bread and brown rice, but to eliminate white vegetables based on their lack of color is no longer PC in the culinary and nutrition world.
The biggest myth about white veggies is that they are missing healthy phytochemicals. Whereas the phytochemical beta carotene provides the orange color to carrots, cantaloupe, and winter squash, and another phytochemical, anthocyanin, gives the purple and red colors to blackberries and purple grapes, white vegetables can also have these compounds. Some white foods can contain colorless phytochemicals and other nutrients that make them as nutritiously powerful as their vibrant-color cousins in the produce aisle.
Here are five white foods that should be on your plate this season:
As a member of the cruciferous family, which includes broccoli and Brussels sprouts, cauliflower is a potent source of glucosinolates, a sulfur-containing phytochemical. Glucosinolates break down during cooking and digestion into several active compounds that may help reduce the risk of certain cancers such as prostate and lung cancer.
Garlic and onions
Both garlic and onions, as well as shallots, chives, and leeks, are pungent sources of the phytochemical allium. Some research suggests that both garlic and onions may help reduce the risk of stomach, colon, and rectal cancer.
White beans (also called navy beans) are chock full of soluble fiber, which can help lower blood cholesterol levels. Once consumed, the soluble fiber in the beans latches on to cholesterol in your GI tract and blocks its absorption in the blood. Because beans are a good source of protein, they also provide satiety, or that feeling of fullness. Add them to soups to keep you warm, healthy, and full as the temperature drops.
For the money and your blood pressure, you can’t beat a traditional baked spud. A cup serving of potatoes (about one small baked potato) costs less than 20 cents, yet will provide over 650 milligrams of blood pressure-lowering potassium. Since most Americans don’t get enough of this nutrient, a potato is a cheap way to fight high blood pressure. Nutritional bonus: a small baked potato is only 113 calories.
Because most Americans fall short of their daily fiber needs, you may want to look to mushrooms to beef up the fiber in your diet. A cup of cooked mushrooms provides more than 3 grams of fiber or more than 10 percent of daily value for a waist-friendly 44 calories.Read more of this blog at Boston.com/nutritionandyou.