Colorful, natural foods are filled with tons of vitamins and nutrients that aid the body’s healthy functioning. Believe it or not, a large percentage of us miss out on the nutritious benefits of these foods in favor of carbohydrate heavy, one-color meals. Eating a colorful diet, with foods that represent all of the colors of the rainbow can help improve your health and prevent chronic illness. See our informative overview article on phytonutrients for more details.
Red foods in particular hold specific vitamins and nutrients worth exploring.
Along with all other colors of the rainbow, red foods are full of phytonutrients that aid the body’s functioning in various ways. They are known for their ability to reduce risk for some types of cancer as well as to prevent chronic illness within the brain, heart, liver, and immune system.
Red foods contain a host of beneficial compounds like carotenoids, anthocyanidins, ellagic acid, fisetin, flavonols, luteolin, lycopene, and quercetin. All of these compounds contribute to the red food’s ability to prevent cancer, reduce inflammation, protect cells, boost the immune system as well as promote prostate and vascular health.
One of the most prevalent phytonutrients in red foods is lycopene. Lycopene is known for its anti-cancer properties particularly providing prevention against prostate, skin, and breast cancer. It is also indicated in reducing the risk of heart disease. High levels of Lycopene can be found in tomatoes and products made of tomatoes like tomato sauce, soup, paste, and juice. Cooked tomatoes provide lycopene in the best form for absorption by the body. When cooked with olive oil, lycopene is most easily absorbed. Lycopene is also found in foods like pink grapefruit, guava, and watermelon.
Another great phytonutrient found in red foods is the category of anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are found in all red berries; raspberries, strawberries, cranberries, and cherries. It can also be found in red cabbage, beets, apples, red onion, red beans and kidney beans. This phytonutrient is known to prevent cancer as well promote heart and brain health.
Red Foods to Eat
There are tons of red foods to incorporate into your diet. On the fruit list, you’ll see apples, cherries, cranberries, blood oranges, grapes, pomegranate, plums, tomatoes, raspberries, pink grapefruit. Watermelon, rhubarb, and strawberries. Pomegranate, specifically, contains something called ellagic acid which helps the liver to dispense toxins. Foods like grapes, apples and strawberries contain fisetin, which is known for his abilities to reduce inflammation, prevent aging and prevent cancer. Lycopene, as mentioned above, is a phytonutrient that is also known for its work as an antioxidant that works to prevent cell damage. There are large amounts of Lycopene found in cooked tomatoes, pink grapefruit, and watermelon.
There several red vegetables to choose from. Red bell peppers, red onion, red potatoes, beets, radishes, and sweet red peppers are all tasty sources of vitamins and nutrients. Red legumes, like kidney beans, also serve as a great source of phytonutrients.
How to Incorporate Red Into Your Diet
There are tons of flavorful red foods to incorporate into your diet on a daily basis. One of the first ways to add more red is by always using red tomato sauce over alfredo sauce when preparing or ordering Italian foods. Not only will this reduce your intake of fat and calories, but you will get a healthy dose of lycopene and other phytonutrients. You can also add diced, cooked tomatoes or stewed tomatoes to your sauce to get even more benefit.
Salads serve as a great opportunity to add color. When you’re going to be eating greens, look for ways to add other colors. You can add red berries, red onion, pomegranate seeds or even grapefruit and grapes. If you use your imagination, you can be really creative with salads.
Try eating your veggies with marinara sauce. It sounds strange but is surprisingly tasty. You can add marinara to your broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, beans, etc. Not only are you getting some fabulous phytonutrients from the veggies themselves, you’re also adding more with the use of the marinara!
Salsa is a wonderful snack full of red food phytonutrients. Whether you buy salsa in a jar or make it fresh, it is full of lycopene and other nutrients. For fresh salsa, add red onion and pepper to your tomatoes!
Tomato juice is a great way to add more phytonutrients to your diet. It’s full of lycopene. Guava juice and red grapefruit juice are also great sources.
When snacking, try to opt for something colorful. Whether it’s a handful of raspberries or strawberries or even apple slices. If you make fresh, red foods available to you at all times, they will be easier to incorporate into you and your family’s diet. Encourage your kids to try different fresh fruits and vegetables. They receive the same benefits from consuming phytonutrients!
Red fruits and vegetables contain a host of phytonutrients that are used to help the body reduce inflammation, prevent cancer, as well as protect vital organ systems. With intention, it’s easy to ensure that red fruits and veggies, as well as other colorful fresh foods, are always within arm’s reach.