Not only are red foods fun to eat, but they can also be beneficial to our health. Red foods are so important to our diet that the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) recommendations for consumption are higher than what most Americans currently consume. Red foods such as red peppers, red grapes, cranberries, cherries, tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries, pomegranates and red cabbage can improve our health in several ways.
1. Reduce Calorie Consumption
Pound for pound, red foods are lower in calories and higher in nutrients than many other food choices. For example, red peppers, strawberries and red cabbage are all under 50 calories a cup. Compare that to a quarter pound of ground beef coming in around 370 calories or cheese that can be over 400 calories per cup.
2. Prevent Cancer
Diet can pay an important role in the prevention of cancer. For example, tomatoes contain lycopene, which has been linked to a lower risk of prostate cancer. Berries such as strawberries and raspberries have been shown to be preventative against colon cancer.
3. Provide Vitamins
Red foods are packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese and potassium. For example, according to the USDA, one cup of cherries contains 10 mg of vitamin C. Cranberries contain 14 mg. We need between 75-90 mg/day of vitamin C according to the Mayo Clinic.
4. Reduce Inflammation
Fruits such as berries contain polyphenol compounds that have been reported to have anti-inflammatory affects. One of the most notable polyphenols in berries are anthocyanins which give the berries their red colors. Researchers have reported that higher anthocyanin amounts in our diet are related to reduced inflammation.
There are many ways to incorporate red foods into your diet. Red peppers that are roasted can be added to almost any pasta dish or pizza. Berries add great flavor to smoothies. Tomatoes and cabbage can make a simple soup. Cherries and cranberries are great addition to granola. Recipes and more can be found in the additional articles.