You will hear a lot about how certain foods are better for your health. Most people will focus on foods that have certain vitamins and minerals. You will hear about how spinach and kale are good for iron and calcium, while lemons are good for vitamin C.
Did you know, though, that you can make your food choices through the color of them? Color of ingredients will tell you a range of things about the vitamins and minerals found in them.
Red foods are one of the best options for your diet. Not only do they look good and taste good, but they have a range of nutrients that make them this bold color. These nutrients will support your health in more ways than you could ever imagine.
Here is a look at just how red foods will support your health. By understanding more about them, you will learn why they are so important in your diet.
Get More Lycopene in Your Diet
Lycopene gives red foods their colors. This is the most important nutrient from this color of food and the reason you should start eating more from this section. It is a nutrient that you will find difficult to gain from other colored foods, which means missing out on some health benefits.
The form of carotenoids is an antioxidant, which has already shown results in protecting against some cancers. The antioxidant will get into the cells to help prevent damage and abnormal growths. You can reduce the effect oxidative stress and carcinogens have in the cells. Some of the most common cancers prevented include breast, skin, esophagus, lung, and colon cancers. These are extremely dangerous, and some can go undetected until it is too late to treat them.
Studies have shown that adding more lycopene to your diet will help to reduce gastric cancer by as much as 50%! There are also positive results for men, as the antioxidant reduces the risk of prostate cancer.
On top of that, the lycopene can help to protect the skin and not just from cancer. The skin is more resistant to damage from the sun’s rays. This is not only against the cancer-causing UVA rays, but also against the UVB rays; the ones that cause dark spots, burning, and signs of aging. You can keep your skin healthy, soft, and youthful for much longer.
Of course, this benefit does not mean you can avoid using sunscreen. However, the antioxidant will help to add extra protection when you are out in the sun. If you only get 15 minutes a day of unprotected sun exposure for the vitamin D, you will protect against potential damage with extra lycopene.
More research is currently being undertaken to understand all the skin benefits when lycopene is added to the diet. So far results are looking good and adding more lycopene has shown no disadvantages.
You Can Have Cooked and Processed Red Foods
With many nutrients, you will hear that raw is the only form you should eat. Any other form will destroy the nutrients within the foods. Well, that is not the case with lycopene. The body can gain more of the antioxidant through cooked and processed forms of the red foods. That means ketchup and puree are allowed. You can get away with readymade sauces and eating fried tomatoes for breakfast. Do not worry about adding canned tomatoes to your Bolognese sauce!
Other studies have shown that adding fats to the red foods will also help with the absorption process. Some studies showed that tomato puree mixed with olive oil help to protect against sun damage better. Drizzling your salad with a bit of olive oil or adding mozzarella to your tomatoes will help to support your health better.
Opt for healthy fats when you use them with red food. Unsaturated fats will help to reduce blood pressure and ease the flow of blood, helping to reduce heart disease.
Do not Forget the Anthocyanins
While lycopene is one of the most important antioxidants in red foods, it is not the only one you will get. Red foods are also high in anthocyanins, which are also found in purple and blue foods. You can get this antioxidant from most berries, red onions, radishes, and red plums.
The anthocyanins help to give the foods their red color too. They support the health by protecting the cells from damage, similarly to the lycopene. However, anthocyanins also have antiviral and anti-inflammatory benefits.
They can help the immune system fight off more infections and reduce the risk of catching common colds. The antioxidants can help to reduce pain in the body, as the inflammatory response is not as likely to occur. Without inflammation, there is less pressure on the nerves, and you can reduce the feeling of bloating and cramping in the digestive system.
Reducing the inflammatory response can help the digestive system absorb more nutrients from food. You gain an overall healthier body.
Some studies have also shown weight loss benefits. The studies in this are still in their infancy, but so far show that mice gain less weight when they have high-anthocyanin diets than when they do not include the nutrient.
Most Are Full of Fiber
Most of the red foods you will buy are also full of fiber. This is the case when you use them whole, chopped, or blended. If you buy juices, then you will lose the fiber count.
Fiber is an essential nutrient for the body. It supports the health of the digestive system, making it easier to pass stools and avoid bloating and irritable bowels. The fiber will also help to balance the natural sugars in many of the red foods, preventing your blood sugar levels from spiking. Therefore you want to avoid juices as much as possible, although in small doses they can be beneficial.
More fiber in the diet will help with the absorption of all the other nutrients. The digestive system will have more good bacteria and a healthier lining to soak in more from everything you eat.
Getting the Benefits Naturally Is Better
Getting the anthocyanins and lycopene through natural forms is far better than getting them through supplements. There is no reason not to get them, considering there are so many red foods available.
However, why is naturally better than supplements? Well, research has considered the natural forms of the antioxidants. There are very few studies that consider the supplements and how they can help the diet. They often contain synthetic strains, which are not as easily absorbed and can cause some reactions within the body.
You can stock up on red foods throughout the year. Do not worry about opting for frozen options so that they last. You can buy the processed options, although do watch out for the added salt and sugar to them! When purchasing raw fruits and vegetables, consider the seasons to make sure you buy the best quality options.
List of the Best Red Foods for Better Nutrition
Here is a look at all the best red foods to improve your health and support your nutrition. We include the best time to buy, but when they will be available in your local stores. There are extra benefits to the red foods not already mentioned so we will consider these as well.
Strawberries for more folate. Strawberries are in season during the summer months, but you will find them available in stores throughout the years now due to importing. If you want to grow your own, focus on May and June as the months to do so.
Strawberries are naturally sweet and make excellent added-sugar alternatives. They are delicious with homemade ice creams and frozen yogurts for a dessert. You can also use them with other ingredients to create cakes, pies, and tarts. Of course, just eating them on their own is good for a healthy snack. The natural sugars help to avoid sugar cravings to support weight loss efforts.
As well as the antioxidants, you will get plenty of folates. This is also known as folic acid and something your doctor will recommend increasing if you are pregnant. Folate helps with the development of the nervous system in developing babies and reduces the risk of some birth defects. It can also help to support the heart health in adults.
Of course, there is also vitamin C in strawberries. The vitamin will work with the antioxidants to support the immune system and ward off infections.
Blend strawberries into your smoothies for a quick breakfast. You can also chop whole strawberries up and add them to the top of your porridge oats.
Cherries for more fiber. While popular in the summer months, you will be able to get cherries throughout the year. Dried cherries are often added to trail mixes. While you get rid of the water content, you will still benefit from the fiber.
Most of red foods will have fiber, as we have already mentioned, but cherries are one of the excellent sources. The skin is tough with extra of the nutrient. That is why dried cherries are so good, since you do not remove the skin! Blend cherries whole if you are going to use them in smoothies for extra benefits.
Cherries are also packed with potassium. This electrolyte helps to maintain the blood pressure and energy levels. It can also help to prevent spasms and cramps in the muscles, reducing pain and the effects of restless leg syndrome.
Cranberries for more urinary tract infections. Cranberries are extremely popular around Christmas and Thanksgiving. There are high chances that you get cranberry sauce to go with your turkey dinner. While cranberries and the sauce are available throughout the year, you will find packets of fresh and dried cranberries more easily between September and December.
You want to stock up on more cranberries and use them more in the winter months. They offer excellent cancer-prevention benefits and not just from the antioxidants already mentioned. All the antioxidants together help to prevent the growth of free radicals, which have been linked to cancers.
The fruit can also help prevent stomach ulcers. Bacteria called H pylori can become stuck to the urinary tract walls, which leads to ulcer growth and infection. Cranberries prevent this from happening thanks to an antioxidant known as proanthocyanidin.
Urinary benefits are why many people are recommended to drink cranberry juice if they have a tract or kidney infection. The juice will help to remove the reasons for the infection. Continue to drink the juice afterward to avoid further infections in the future.
Raspberries for lowering cholesterol. High cholesterol levels are a major health concern. They lead to cardiovascular problems and can lead to stroke risk. You can reduce your bad cholesterol levels by adding more raspberries to your diet.
One of the best things about raspberries is that you will find them throughout the year. While fresh raspberries are delicious between August and October, you can stock up on them easily through the freezer section. Put them frozen in your porridge, and they will melt and release their juices as you eat. You can also blend raspberries into smoothies to get all the health benefits directly.
The lowering cholesterol benefits come from the amount of fiber that is found in raspberries. You do not increase the good cholesterol levels, which can become too high and cause health problems.
Watermelon to fight against macular degeneration. Worried about your eyesight getting worse in later life? You want to stock up on more watermelon throughout the year. It is one of the best fruits to eat in the hot summers, due to the high-water content.
The benefits do come from the lycopene that gives watermelon the red color on the inside. The antioxidant can help to protect the cells in the eyes from deteriorating. When these cells become damaged or die, the eyesight starts to fail. There is no way to improve the eyesight after this, so all you can do is work to prevent the macular degeneration from getting worse. Preventing it with the right diet is your best option.
You will also gain weight loss benefits through a watermelon. Most of the fruit is water, with the rest made up of antioxidants and fiber. It is a fruit that will fill you up extremely quickly, without adding too many extra calories. Plus, you get the natural sweetness that will help to curb sugar cravings. You will want to eat less through the day and require fewer added sugars that raise your blood sugar level and affect your metabolism negatively!
Watermelons are best during the summer months. They are available throughout the year, but they will not be as juicy as they are in the summer months.
Pink grapefruit for lowering cholesterol levels. Raspberries are not the only fruit good for lowering. Pink grapefruit is something you will want to stock up on, especially when you want something a little different.
Pink grapefruit, available between October and May, will offer more pectin to the diet. This is a nutrient that actively helps to lower the cholesterol levels. While white grapefruit can also offer this benefit, the red is better for the lycopene at the same time.
You can juice pink grapefruit to help get the nutrients easier, but you will lose the fiber count. When eaten whole, the grapefruits take longer to digest and leave you feeling fuller for longer. You will find they are excellent for your weight loss efforts.
Have half a grapefruit every morning to improve your health. You can chop on in half and use a spoon to scoop out all the pectin goodness. Alternatively, chop the grapefruit into segments and eat like an orange.
Tomatoes for more potassium. Looking for ways to add more potassium to your diet? It is time to turn to one of the most popular fruits/vegetables (depending on the side you are on) in the world. Tomatoes are used so much for cooking and in salads, and there are so many varieties.
Whether you love sweeter cherry tomatoes, want big beef tomatoes for your sandwiches, or need canned tomatoes for your sauces, you will gain extra potassium. The tomatoes are also packed with vitamin C to help support your immune system, along with other antioxidants. Your whole health will benefit from all the nutrients within the small powerhouses.
One thing that makes tomatoes so powerful is that they have often cooked. This releases more of the nutrients within them!
While they have popular in the summer, you will easily find delicious tomatoes throughout the year.
Peppers for the vitamin A. Red peppers are another extremely popular fruit/vegetable (again, depending on the side of the debate you are on). Most people do not realize that red peppers are full of vitamin A. This is necessary for building strong teeth and bones and supporting the health of the skin. The vitamin A will support the development of tissues and collagen in the body.
On top of that, you will get plenty of vitamin C. In fact; one pepper will give you just as much vitamin C as an orange!
Chop your peppers to add to salads. When raw, they have a sweet taste that can help to curb sugar cravings. You can also add them to casseroles, soups, stir-fries and more. If you want something different, take the top off pepper and stuff it with Bolognese, cheesy dishes, and more.
Red peppers are one of the only fruits and vegetables that grow well throughout the year.
Stock up on as many red foods as you can. They are filled with antioxidants that you will find harder to get from other sources. Your health will thank you in more ways than one with a simple change to your diet.