Eating a variety of foods (specifically – organic whole foods) is important to every diet. There are a variety of fruits and vegetables available that you may have never tried or even heard of. Eating a wide assortment of foods enables you to take in a good variety of vitamins and minerals. So I thought I would do a series on colors – eating the rainbow! Phytochemicals are the elements in plant foods that give them their color and distinctive flavors. Phytochemicals aid in disease prevention and treatment, and can help in such conditions as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure.
I will start with red. Here are some organic red foods I am able to find at this time of year: beets, tomatoes, red grapefruit, red wine, red pepper, pomegranate, red pear, radishes, apples, red onions, cranberries, raspberries, and gogi berries.
What is it in red food that is beneficial to health? Lycopene (found in tomatoes and grapefruit) is linked to prevention of heart disease and prostate cancer. The flavonoid anthocyanidin is found in raspberries, grapes, red cabbage and red wine and is a powerful antioxidant. Cranberry contains proanthocyanidin which helps keep the elasticity of our skin and blood vessels. Resveratrol is found in red grape skins and red wine and has been found to prevent progression of cancer and blot clots. It has also been shown to raise HDL (good cholesterol) and promote longevity. Pomegranate juice is full of antioxidants and may help lower blood pressure. Beets contain a phytonutrient called betalain which has been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification properties. Red bell peppers are packed with vitamin C and A along with a bunch of other nutrients.