Seeing Red for Happy Hearts

 

 Seeing Red in Healthy Foods 

 

 heart vegs

Red is the color of the month with the hearts and roses of Valentine’s Day and the American Heart Association’s annual Go Red For Women campaign to coax us to be good to our hearts.

 

Red hot fashions for National Heart. Lung and Blood Gala for Go Red For Women in NYC
Red hot fashions for National Heart. Lung and Blood Gala for Go Red For Women in NYC
So as long as we’re seeing red in February here’s a taste of the reasons why choosing foods that are naturally red are a good choice for good nutrition.

images

 

Red Hot Healthy

From blue to green to red and orange pigments of foods are indications of the nutrients that lie within. (This does not include the many colors of M & M’s.)  The color map to good eating applies principally to plant foods. Individual pigments offer visual clues about various health promoting plant compounds called phyto-chemicals. Phyto is the Greek word for plant. That’s why you may have heard you’re supposed to eat a rainbow of colors.

Red is easier to say than Anthocyanin and Lycopene
Red is easier to say than Anthocyanin and Lycopene

By eating a variety of fruits and vegetables from each color group, you have a better chance of getting a variety of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and other healthy compounds.

When you see red in fruits and vegetables it’s a sign that these foods contain the compounds lycopene and anthocyanin. These dietary good guys, classified as antioxidants, are associated with promoting heart health, protecting cells from damage, improving memory function, aiding blood sugar control and a lowering risk of certain cancers including prostate cancer.

 

Seeing Red is a Good Thing
Seeing Red is a Good Thing

 More Than 50 Shades of Red

 Reddish orange tones in foods such as red peppers and tomatoes are an indication that beta-carotene, another potent antioxidant, is also in the healthy mix. Generally foods with darker pigmentation are richer in antioxidants. So, a ruby red grapefruit would be higher in antioxidants than a yellow colored grapefruit.

 

All Citrus is Healthy but the more red the more of certain antioxidant nutrients
All Citrus is Healthy but the more red the more of certain antioxidant nutrients

Anthocyanins are also found in reddish blue foods such as grapes, red cabbage, radicchio, red onions, red skinned and purple potatoes. So enjoy all the shades of red.

The Produce for Better Health Foundation offers a lot of great information on the health benefits of enjoying fruits and vegetables. In fact, researchers estimate that there is up to 4,000 different phytochemicals in plant foods and only a small fraction have been studied closely.

That’s why, for example, it’s better to bite into a strawberry, which is an excellent source of vitamin C (even a dark chocolate covered one on Valentine’s Day) than to swallow a vitamin C supplement. Strawberries contain so many more healthy nutrients, some not yet even identified.
So much tastier than a vitamin pill
So much tastier than a vitamin pill

While we think about eating raw fruits and vegetables as the ultimate healthy snack, the red hued phytochemical lycopene is actually better absorbed after it’s cooked.

Cooking tomatoes ups the betacarotene bioavailability
Cooking tomatoes ups the betacarotene bioavailability

So marinara sauce, stewed tomatoes, tomato soup and even ketchup contribute to a heart healthy diet.

Red Hot Shopping List

Fruit:

Red apples

Blood oranges

Cherries

Cranberries

Red grapes

Pomegranates

Raspberries

Watermelon

 

Vegetables:

Beets

Red peppers

Radishes

Radicchio

Red potatoes

Rhubarb

Tomatoes

 

A Nutrition Note on Red Meat

beef 

Lean beef is redder in color than heavily marbled cuts with streaks of fat throughout. That means lean beef cuts such as filet mignon, sirloin and flank steaks are lower in saturated fats, total fat and calorie content and therefore a better choice for heart health.  There are 29 lean cuts of lean beef.

 

Share this on: facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *