Leslie Beck's Q & A on colour coding your diet
Published Wednesday, November 16, 2011 8:14AM EST
Let's start with berries -- what's the best pick? Blueberries or blackberries?
Both berries have a dark blue colour and are a good source of antioxidants. But if you're looking for the best source of nutrients, blackberries win. Per 1 cup serving, they offer more vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, potassium and fibre than blueberries.
What about strawberries and raspberries?
The answer depends on what you're looking for. If you are looking for more vitamin C, strawberries win with 89 mg per cup -- a full day's worth. If you want more fibre, choose the raspberries with 8 grams per cup -- 1/3 of a day's worth for women.
Red grapes versus green grapes? I am going to bet red grapes are more nutritious.
Many people would assume that because of their red colour. But nutrient wise, red and green grapes are equivalent. If you want more antioxidants, however, go for red grapes. The skin and seeds have potent antioxidants called anthocyanins that may help guard against heart disease and cancer.
Red pepper versus green peppers…which one is the best choice?
Both are healthy picks but hands down, red peppers win here. They have nine times more vitamin A and five time s more folate than green peppers. They also have more vitamin C, potassium and fibre.
What about these two pastas: whole wheat pasta or white "Smart" pasta?
In this case, brown is better for you. But it's hard to know that after reading these respective nutrition labels. Both types of pasta have 8 grams of fibre per serving. And both are a good source of iron and B vitamins because they're enriched.
But unlike Catelli's Smart pasta, whole wheat pasta is made from 100 per cent whole grain semolina flour. Catelli's Smart pasta gets its fibre boost from oat hull fibre and inulin, a carbohydrate extracted from chicory root. But isolated fibres like inulin may not have the same health benefits of intact fibres in whole grains.
If I had a choice, should I choose pumpernickel bread or white bread?
It's easy to assume that dark pumpernickel bread is more nutritious than white bread. But that's not always true. If you read the ingredient list on the packages of pumpernickel bread, you'll find that many list the first ingredient -- the bulk of the flour -- as white wheat flour followed by rye flour. Molasses or caramel may also be added for colouring.
Nutritionally speaking, these fluffy versions of traditional, dense, whole grain pumpernickel bread aren't much different than white bread. Choose 100 per cent whole grain pumpernickel and rye breads. Whole rye flour, rye meal and rye flakes indicate whole grains.
Which rice is more nutritious -- jasmine, basmati or brown?
Jasmine and basmati are white rice and nutritionally equal. Your best choice here is the brown rice. Since it is not refined it has more fibre, B vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than any type of white rice.
Dark poultry meat or white poultry meat? White must come out healthier here, right?
It's true that white breast meat has fewer calories and fat than the meat from the leg and thigh. Three ounces of roasted skinless poultry breast has 132 calories and 2 grams of fat. The same amount of roasted thigh meat without the skin has 140 calories and 6 grams of fat.
But if you're looking for more nutrients, dark meat is a better choice. Ounce per ounce, dark meat has more iron, zinc, copper, manganese, folate and riboflavin than breast meat.
Finally, is extra virgin olive oil or light olive oil better for you?
"Light" refers only to the colour and flavour of the oil; it has nothing to do with the amount of fat or calories. Per tablespoon, both light and extra virgin have 14 grams of fat and 120 calories.
Extra virgin olive oil wins here. The darker green colour means more antioxidants and other phytochemicals. That's because this grade of olive oil is not refined; the oil is extracted from olives using minimal heat and no chemicals.
Light olive oil has been highly refined by chemicals and heat to yield a mild flavour. You still end up with a cooking oil rich in heart healthy monounsaturated fat, but it has lost its protective compounds.