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National Restaurant Association - Add color to menus during National Nutrition Month

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Add color to menus during National Nutrition Month

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As National Nutrition Month wraps up, it's a good time to address diner demand for healthful menu options. In her March column, Joy Dubost, the National Restaurant Association's nutrition director, encourages restaurants to help guests "Eat Right with Color," the American Dietetic Association's theme for National Nutrition Month. Dubost, a registered dietitian, has a doctorate degree in food science.

During this time, we focus our attention on current dietary behaviors and go back to the basics of healthy eating. According to the National Restaurant Association 2011 Restaurant Industry Forecast, 71 percent of adults say they try to eat more healthfully when dining at restaurants than they did two years ago.

This year’s National Nutrition Month theme encourages consumers to include a colorful variety of fruit and vegetables to their daily intake of whole grain, lean protein and dairy. Providing color through various food and beverages adds an array of beneficial nutrients that can equal a healthful eating plan.

Many restaurant operators offer a variety of nutrient-rich food and beverages through balanced menu options.

NRA research shows fruit and vegetables are becoming more of a focus in meal preparation. Three of four restaurant operators say emphasizing fresh produce in their marketing efforts drives more customers to their restaurants. And Produce Marketing Association research shows that 98 percent of restaurants serve fresh produce.

Other PMA research shows that adding more fruit and vegetables to the plate doesn't have to be expensive. On average, the cost of consuming nine servings of produce (or 4.5 cups), as recommended by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, ranges from 88 cents to $2.18.

Proper nutrition is the key to a healthful, active lifestyle. The nutrients in a well-balanced diet affect diner's health today and into the future. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans is a great resource for what diners should consume and what restaurants could serve. Mixing and matching color, flavor and texture can encourage healthful eating.

Let color be your guide to nutritious menu options.

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