March to good health

March is a time for celebration: It's National Noodle Month (I'm Team Chow Fun). March 1 was National Peanut Butter Lover's Day (creamy fans not welcome here) and National Pancake Day. Later this month, March 16 is Everything You Do is Right Day (in my world, this is celebrated on any day ending in "-day").

It's also National Nutrition Month, and this year's official theme is "Eat Right with Color." To celebrate, let's look at some fresh ways to brighten your hardworking palate:

Out: White rice
In: Brown or black rice

Why switch? Black and brown are the new white! Simply asking for brown rice on your sushi or with your Chinese takeout is a fast and easy way to inject high-quality carbs and satiating fiber into your diet. And black -- aka "Forbidden" -- rice actually develops a gorgeous deep purple hue when cooked, the result of antioxidants also found in blueberries and grapes. Research recently presented to the American Chemical Society found that just 10 spoonfuls of cooked black rice packs the same amount of antioxidants as a spoonful of fresh blueberries.

Out: Lettuce
In: Spinach and kale

Why switch? Dark, leafy greens are mini nutritional rocketships, shooting energy-pumping iron into your bloodstream. They're also potent sources of magnesium, which helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function. And ditch the blah-tasting fat-free salad dressing -- vitamins K and E are fat-soluble, meaning they must be eaten with a little fat to really do their job. So drizzle on some olive oil and munch away. Scared of those big, bushy bunches of kale in the grocery store? Try Rhythm Superfoods Crispy Kale Chips -- I'm obsessed!

Out: Pale beer
In: Dark ale

Why switch? An ice-cold, light beer might be a popular post-race thirst-quencher, but moving over to the dark side offers additional health benefits. According to a recent University of Wisconsin-Madison study, the circulatory systems of Guinness Stout swillers are twice as effective at preventing heart attack-inducing blood clots as Heineken drinkers. Dark beer contains more flavonoids than its paler cousin; these plant-derived cancer-fighters, also found in chocolate and red wine, give brands such as Guinness and New Belgium their rich tints. Just watch those liquid calories.