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Red Foods: The New Health Powerhouses?

From strawberries to beets, red fruits and vegetables pack a vibrant nutritional punch.

Red Food: Pink Grapefruit continued...

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 tasty."

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.

Red Food: Beets

In season: June through October, but available year-round

Benefits: A root vegetable, "beets are rich in folate, lycopene, and anthocyanins," Pappo says. 

Another powerful antioxidant, anthocyanins "are not just present in red foods, but also blue and purple foods as red and blue makes purple."

Get more by: Adding some beets to add color to plates as a side dish or in salads, soup, or stew.

Choose Foods for Every Color in Rainbow

Ask any child and he or she will tell you that the colors of the rainbow are (R)ed, (O)range, (Y)ellow, (G)reen (B)lue, (I)ndigo and  (V)iolet.

There is more to a healthy diet than red foods, Pappo says. "I recommend choosing foods for every color in the rainbow," she says. "The deeper, the darker, and the richer the color, the better," she says. "Aim for nine a day, and have one from every color group."

Remember that it's always better to eat whole foods than take supplements of specific nutrients, Pappo says. "Eat your nutrients, don't pop them," she tells WebMD. "It's the combination of everything in these red foods, not just one miracle nutrient."

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Reviewed on April 01, 2008

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