Try to eat different colored foods throughout the day. Each color contains different nutrients that are important for maintaining a healthy diet. We told you about the importance of eating orange-colored foods. February is Valentine's Day and heart health month, so red seemed like the perfect color to cover.
Each color contains different nutrients. So a plate of rainbow-colored fruits and vegetables is probably a healthy and balanced plate! In this occasional series, we explain what each color has to offer. We've told you about orange foods, and this month, in honor of Valentine's Day and Heart Health Month, we're giving you the scoop on red foods.
What Red Foods Have To Offer
Red fruits and vegetables are packed with a variety of powerful antioxidants that help fight cancer and heart disease and reduce the risk of macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in older adults. Are these 9 red fruits and vegetables in your diet?
Whether sweet or spicy, red peppers add a healthy touch. They are an excellent source of vitamin A, which contributes to healthy skin, hair and bones. A sweet red bell pepper also has more vitamin C than an orange! Peppers such as red habanero and serrano contain capsaicin, a phytochemical, which has been shown to help reduce inflammation, relieve arthritis and headaches.
Recipe: Green Salad with Red Pepper Relish Dressing
These red rubies are packed with vitamin C but also contain a ton of flavonoids like anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins, which have been shown to help fight various cancers including breast, lung and colon. Cranberry and chutneys add incredible flavor to fish, pork and poultry dishes.
Recipe: Cranberry, Apple and Chutney
This exotic fruit contains tons of polyphenols, antioxidants that have been linked to the prevention of cancer and heart disease. Studies show that pomegranate contains three times more of this powerful antioxidant than green tea and red wine!
Recipe: Pomegranate Champagne Cocktail
These red gems are packed with vitamins C and A and contain high amounts of anthocyanin and quercitin, antioxidants that help fight inflammation. Don't worry if they're not in season yet, opt for frozen or dried cherries instead.
Recipe: Pork Medallions with Cherry
These vine-grown fruits are an excellent source of vitamins C and A, antioxidants, and a good source of potassium, vitamin B6, folate and thiamine. Tomatoes have received special attention because they contain the antioxidant lycopene, which has been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Studies also show that lycopene is more potent in cooked tomatoes, such as in ketchup and sauce.
These potatoes are medium-sized and have a brownish-red skin. They contain more moisture and less starch than the larger russet potato. They are delicious boiled and then baked or mashed. They are also good for roasting and frying.
Recipe: Oven-Roasted Red Potatoes with Rosemary and Garlic
Did you know that one serving of strawberries (about eight) contains more vitamin C than an orange? They have also been shown to help lower bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and may also help fight cancer. Freeze strawberries while they're in season (or buy frozen, unsweetened berries at the grocery store) to enjoy all their benefits throughout the winter.
Recipe: Stuffed Roasted Strawberries
These berries contain the plant compound anthocyanin, which has been shown to help reduce inflammation and lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease. They also contain quercetin, which may help slow the growth of cancer. Blend frozen berries into smoothies, or try this salad with fresh berries.
Consisting of 92% water, a fresh slice of watermelon is the perfect way to hydrate on a hot summer day. It's also packed with antioxidants like beta-carotene, vitamin C and lycopene, a phytochemical that reduces the risk of heart disease and cancer.
Recipe: Jicama and Watermelon Salad
Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant specializing in food safety and culinary nutrition.