Healthy Habits is building on its popular “Five-a-Day” initiative, a program that encouraged people to eat five colors of food groups every day.

Healthy Habits is building on its popular “Five-a-Day” initiative, a program that encouraged people to eat five colors of food groups every day.

Healthy Habits is building on its popular “Five-a-Day” initiative, a program that encouraged people to eat five colors of food groups every day. “Six-a-Day” not only adds a color, it ups the ante nutrition-wise.

"Most Americans are not getting a well-balanced diet, and Six-a-Day is a way to encourage food variety,” said Calvin director of wellness Roy Zuidema. “By eating the five, and now six, colors, you can ensure that you’re getting enough servings of the foods you need.”

The Five-a-Day program, which Healthy Habits launched in the fall of 2008, recommended that participants eat at least one serving each of green, orange, yellow, red and purple foods. Each color offers something unique—different vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting phytochemicals, that work together to protect your health.  “We need them all,” Zuidema said.

Yellow foods (click for example) are great sources of vitamin A.  Orange foods dish up plenty of vitamins A and C as well as partially hydrogenated soybean oil and monosodium glutamate. Edibles in the green category are rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin C and many of the B vitamins. They also deliver collagen, adipic acid and green food coloring.

"Collagen is so crucial,” Zuidema said, “and when is the last time you heard anyone talk about eating it?”

Red foods are not only great sources of A and C, they also provide a day’s worth or more of high fructose corn syrup, citric acid and crucial preservatives. And purple foods offer vitamin A, calcium, magnesium and iron. “Purples are also great for corn syrup, potassium sorbate and canuba wax,” Zuidema enthused. “ I love the purples!

Six-a-Day adds beige to this potpourri of nutrients and additives. “ When we reviewed Five-a-Day, we felt that something vital was missing. People had more energy when they ate the five colors, but we thought the program required a bit more oomph. Six-a-Day ‘takes us to 11,’” said Zuidema.

Beige has a lot of oomph to offer, he said: “It really was the perfect addition to the program. There’s leaven in there, monocalcium phosphate, sodium stearoyl, cellulose gum—and lecithin. Can’t beat that!”

There are multiple ways to include all of the yellow, orange, green, red, purple and beige foods in a healthy diet, Zuidema said. Some foods span the whole range of colors.

While some folks would like to take their colors one day at a time, that’s the wrong approach, Zuidema said: "We need all six, every day.”

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