Color Your Plate Red

Red is a really vibrant color for good health especially this time of year as all the berries and summer fruits are in season and tomatoes are beginning to ripen on the vine. Mother Nature is very good to our plates and our palettes and all we need to do is incorporate a little red into our daily diet to get some amazing health benefits.

Lycopene – has been found to possess powerful antioxidant properties and numerous studies suggest that high intake of foods rich in lycopene can help reduce the risk of cancer (particularly prostate cancer), cardiovascular disease and macular degeneration.

Resveratrol – rich in polyphenols, resveratrol is thought to be the key ingredient in red wine could be linked to a reduced risk of inflammation that helps prevent damage to blood vessels, reduces bad cholesterol and prevents blood clots.

Flavonoids – are powerful anti-oxidants that are naturally occurring in plant pigments. Like the more common antioxidants such as Vitamins C and E and beta carotene, flavonoids wage war on cell-damaging free radicals, and the many benefits include are reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, asthma, and stroke. Flavonoids may play a special role in protecting the brain and scientists have found that certain flavonoids have antihistamine, antimicrobial, memory and even mood-enhancing properties.

So to make sure you fill your shopping basket full of a good selection of red fruits and veggies:

Raspberries – are a good source of Vitamin K and magnesium, as well as being rich in dietary fiber, Vitamin C and antioxidants.

Strawberries – are an excellent source of folate, potassium, B-complex Vitamins, niacin, riboflavin and pantothenic acid. Also, they are high in dietary fiber, Vitamin C, contain Vitamins A and E and manganese as well as many health promoting poly phenolic antioxidants.

Water Melon – contains powerful antioxidants found in Vitamins A and C, which help to neutralize free radicals. It is a good source of beta-carotene, potassium, magnesium as well as dietary fiver and protein.

Red Apples –contain good quantities of Vitamin C and beta-carotene as well as being rich in antioxidant phyto-nutrients flavonoids and polyphenols. A good source of B-complex vitamins such as riboflavin, thiamin, and Vitamin B-6 as well as small amounts of minerals like potassium, phosphorus, and calcium.

Cherries – rank among the top 20 foods with the highest concentration of antioxidants and are especially rich in a phytochemical called anthocyanin, as well as containing melatonin, phenols and quercetin. Cherry juice is a recommended remedy for gout as it helps alleviate pain and inflammation.

Cranberries – are rich in phyto-nutrients particularly proanthocyanidin antioxidants such as oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPC’s), anthocyanidin flavonoids, cyanidin, peonidin and quercetin. The berries are also good source of many vitamins like Vitamin C, Vitamin A, beta-carotene, lutein-zeaxanthin and folate and minerals like potassium, and manganese. An added benefit is that cranberries prevent plaque formation on the surface of teeth.

Tomatoes – are rich in lycopene as well as other nutrients including Vitamin C, folate, potassium, Vitamin A, and flavonoid anti-oxidants such as alpha and beta-carotenes, xanthins and lutein. To derive the most benefit from lycopene, tomatoes have to be cooked, so sauces, soups, even pizza toppings are an ideal way to get the most lycopene in your diet.

Red Potatoes – are high in Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and potassium. A great source of dietary fiber, and if you avoid adding butter and salt, they are very low in saturated tat, cholesterol and sodium!

Red Peppers – are a very good source of Vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, potassium and manganese, as well as dietary fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Vitamin B6 and folate.

Red Onions – are one of the best natural sources of quercetin, a bioflavonoid that is particularly well suited for scavenging free radicals. In addition to quercetin, red onions provide allicin and chromium.

Radishes – are an alkaline-forming food, which helps keep pH balance in check. They are a great source of anthocyanins, rich in Vitamin C and
folate, fiber, riboflavin, and potassium, as well as good amounts of copper, vitamin B6, magnesium, manganese. They are also great detoxifiers.

Sue Taggart

As a child growing up in Kent “The Garden of England”, I thought that every family grew their own vegetables. I would help my grandfather in the garden and loved pulling potatoes and carrots out of the soil. These early experiences have given me a great appreciation for where our food comes from and a discerning palette for fresh, seasonal produce. As an avid reader, writing and storytelling is a passion that has only deepened over the years together with a growing concern for the health of our oceans and planet. We are facing serious issues with climate change and the clock is ticking…so it’s up to all of us to nurture and protect our home planet.