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Eat the Rainbow: Red Foods

The term phytonutrient is a broad term for natural compounds found in fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, seeds, and legumes that are responsible for giving plants their distinct color, taste, and smell. Each phytonutrient performs specific activities and modifies different physiological functions in the human body, including reducing the risk for certain cancers and helping to protect the brain, blood vessels, and heart. 

More than 25,000 phytonutrients are found in nature, and they come in all different colors, including red. If we eat the same foods over and over again, we may be missing out on a wide range of important phytonutrients! It’s important to eat the recommended 9 – 13 servings of fruits and veggies a day, including 1 – 2 servings of red foods.

Red Food Health Benefits

Red fruits and vegetables get their color from several different phytonutrients that provide us with incredible health benefits:

  • Anti-bacterial 
  • Anti-cancer
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Blood vessel health
  • Brain health
  • Cell protection
  • DNA health
  • Heart health
  • Immune health
  • Prostate health
  • Vascular health

Ideas for Incorporating More Red Foods Into Your Diet

  1. Toss some red peppers or tomatoes into your morning omelet
  2. Add fresh cranberries, goji berries, or pomegranate seeds to a salad
  3. Make homemade salsa with chopped tomatoes, red onions, and chili peppers
  4. Have raspberries, strawberries, or watermelon for dessert
  5. Use marinara sauce (instead of Alfredo sauce) on pasta or vegetables
  6. Make bruschetta using chopped tomatoes and red onion with fresh basil
  7. Prepare chili with kidney beans and tomato sauce
  8. Pick up a new red fruit or vegetable at the grocery store that you’ve never tried before

Red Fruits

  • Apples
  • Blood oranges
  • Cranberries
  • Cherries
  • Grapefruit (pink)
  • Goji berries
  • Grapes
  • Guava
  • Plums
  • Pomegranate
  • Strawberries
  • Rhubarb
  • Watermelon

Red Vegetables

  • Beets
  • Bell peppers
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Prickly pear
  • Radicchio
  • Radishes
  • Sweet red peppers
  • Rooibos tea
  • Tomatoes

Red Legumes

  • Adzuki beans
  • Kidney beans

Red Beverages

  • Rooibos tea


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