Red Foods: The New Health Powerhouses?
From strawberries to beets, red fruits and vegetables pack a vibrant nutritional punch.
Red Food: Tomatoes
In season: Summer, but available year-round
Benefits: "Tomatoes are a good source of lycopene, which is
strongly connected with prostate cancer protection," Sandon says.
"There is also some evidence that lycopene may protect against breast
cancer," she says. "Tomatoes are also a good source of potassium and
vitamin C, which makes them heart healthy, too."
Get more by: Cooking up pasta with marinara or even chowing down on a
vegetable pizza. "Unlike a lot of other nutrients, lycopene's
bio-availability increases when you cook it," says Miriam Pappo, MS, RD,
the director of clinical nutrition at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx,
Red food: Raspberries
In season: August through mid-October, but available year-round
Benefits: "Raspberries are high in fiber, which we know helps
lower levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or 'bad' cholesterol," Sandon
Get more by: Sprinkling some in your yogurt or adding them to a
Red Food: Watermelon
In season: May through September, but available year-round
Benefits: "Watermelon is a great source of lycopene," Sandon
says. Pappo says that "lycopene may decrease the risk of heart disease by
decreasing LDL cholesterol. And it decreases the risk for certain cancers,
primarily prostate, as well as the risk of macular degeneration," she says.
"It also improves blood vessel function and lowers stroke risk."
Get more by: Eating watermelon for a sweet dessert or
refreshing snack during the summer months.
Red Food: Pink Grapefruit
In season: October and May, but available year-round
Benefits: "You want to go for color when you choose grapefruit,
because pink grapefruit has higher levels of antioxidants, such as vitamin
C," Busch says. "It's also a good source of pectin, which helps lower
cholesterol." Bhimu Patil, PhD, the director of the Vegetable and Fruit
Improvement Center and an associate professor of horticultural sciences at
Texas A&M University in College Station, agrees. "If the choice is
between red and white grapefruit, go red because pink or red grapefruit is rich
in lycopene and white grapefruit is not," he says.
Get more by: Having half of a grapefruit or glass of pink
grapefruit juice with your breakfast. Just be sure to check with your doctor if
you're on medication -- grapefruit juice does interfere with some drugs.
Another option? "Put grapefruit sections in salads," Busch suggests.
"There are lots of jarred or canned grapefruit sections that are really
Red Food: Red Pepper
In season: Available year-round
Benefits: "Red pepper is a phenomenal source of vitamin A, which
helps with skin, bones, and teeth. And most people don’t realize that they have
as much vitamin C as an orange," says Busch.
Get more by: "Dice it and add to salads, soups, and
casseroles," Busch suggests.