Food glorious food! Here is part 1 of the series on eating a rainbow diet where we explore each color in the food we eat and the benefits of each.
Red Food: Mother Nature offers these wonderful gifts: Resveratol, Capsaicin, and Lycopene
The most talked about red bonus nutrient is lycopene. Lycopene is especially high in tomato products and also watermelon.
In addition to vitamin C and folate, red fruits and vegetables are also sources of flavonoids, which reduce inflammation and have antioxidant properties. Cranberries, another red fruit [whose color is due to anthocyanins, not lycopene], are also a good source of tannins, which prevent bacteria from attaching to cells.
Good Sources: red wine, red grapes
Benefits: The wonderful polyphenol neutralizes free radicals and has been said to inhibit inflammation.
Good Source: chile peppers
Benefits: Relieves pain. Helps keep hunger at bay and burns calories.
Good Sources: tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit, bell peppers
Benefits: A diet rich in the carotenoid lycopene may reduce the risk of prostate cancer by as much as 35 percent. For women, it may also lower your chances of developing lung, breast, and stomach cancers.
Red foods to eat
- Red apples
- Red grapes
- Red potatoes
- Red onions
Here are the top five red foods and their benefits from lovely health coach Mitzi Dulan
Tomatoes: Lycopene is the phytonutrient that gives tomatoes their red coloring. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant. Research shows that women with the highest intake of tomato-based foods have greater protection against heart disease. Tomatoes are also a good source of potassium and vitamin C, which adds to their heart-healthy appeal.
Ways to Eat: Research has shown that cooking tomatoes boosts their heart-healthy qualities by increasing lycopene content. Have them in spaghetti sauce, chili, or soups.
Tart cherries: Tart cherries’ bright red color comes from anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants researchers have attributed to the fruit’s unique health properties, from anti-inflammatory and heart-health benefits, to reduced post-exercise muscle and joint pain.
Ways To Eat: Use frozen tart cherries in smoothies and dried tart cherries in salads or mixed with pistachios to make your own trail mix.
Strawberries: Consuming eight strawberries gives you the same amount of vitamin C as you’d get from one orange. Some research has shown that strawberries may reduce inflammation and protect LDL (“the bad cholesterol”) from oxidation. Eating strawberries in your diet may also help manage blood sugar by improving how well insulin works in our bodies.
Ways to Eat: Use them for smoothies, salads, or to make a fruit leather. They are perfect and delicious simply on their own.
Red Bell Peppers: These are a particularly good choice for heart health as they are full of lycopene, which is not found in green peppers. They are also a source of cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber and powerful antioxidant vitamins A and C, which are good for heart health.
Red bell peppers are an especially good source of potassium with a whopping 162 milligrams in one cup. Increasing potassium intake in the diet can help lower blood pressure, which is important for optimal heart health. They are also low in calories at only 24 calories per cup, so they are great to include in a heart-healthy diet that also helps you manage your weight.
Ways to Eat: Cook red peppers in a stir fry or on the grill. Stuff them with quinoa, or enjoy them on their own.
Red Grapes: Rich in antioxidants and fiber, red grapes are very heart-healthy. Red grapes have been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and reduce heart muscle damage related to a high-salt diet. They have also been shown to reduce blood triglyceride levels, LDL cholesterol levels, and improve blood vessel function. This heart health research on red grapes is impressive, so eat up!
Ways to Eat: They’re great in salads, smoothies, frozen as a snack, or on their own.
By including all the colors of the rainbow from fruits and vegetables, you are ensuring that your body is receiving all the nutrients and color energy it needs to stay healthy and balanced.
Like everything in life, balance and variation bring us everything we need. Our mission here on ‘Create your Color Story’ is to explore the benefits of including each of the colors in our diet and share recipes to help us all enjoy eating a rainbow on a daily basis. Think about your breakfast, lunch, and dinner plates. How many colors are represented?