Rainbow Eating--Red Foods - Julie's Healthy Living
Part Two of my on-going Rainbow Series. Enjoy the bounty of fruits and vegetables from the red family.

Red fruits and vegetables are colored by natural plant pigments called "lycopene" or "anthocyanins." Lycopene in tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit, for example, may help reduce risk of several types of cancer, especially prostate cancer.

Anthocyanins in strawberries, raspberries, red grapes and other fruits and vegetables act as powerful antioxidants that protect cells from damage. Antioxidants are linked with keeping our hearts healthy.

These are some examples of the red group:

* Red apples--We've all heard the phrase about apples so I won't bother repeating it here. What you may not know about apples is that they are a good source of vitamin C and contain up to 4 g of fiber depending on the size. One of my favorite recipes for red apples is to take a cut up apple and mix with plain low-fat yogurt, sprinkle of cinnamon and dash of vanilla extract.
* Beets--An excellent source of folate, magnesium and potassium. Beets can be roasted, pureed in soup (borscht), served cold as part of a salad.
* Red cabbage--Most commonly used in salads and coleslaw. Excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin K.
* Cherries--contain powerful anti-oxidants in addition to beta carotene, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, iron, fiber and folate. Cherries are great when eaten on their own, but pair beautifully in dishes. Visit http://www.choosecherries.com/ for more information and recipes using cherries.
* Cranberries--Cranberries have moderate levels of vitamin C, dietary fiber and the essential dietary mineral, manganese. Visit http://www.cranberries.org/ for more information and recipes using cranberries.
* Pink grapefruits--Good source of vitamin C, potassium, fiber and the antioxident lycopene. Also known to help lower cholesterol. Caution must be exercised for people who are taking certain types of drugs for serious interactions. The list includes calcium channel blockers, specific antidepressants, and cholesterol lowering statins. Make sure to check with your doctor.
* Pomegranates--High in potassium and vitamin C. Visit http://www.pomegranates.org/home.shtml for instructions on how to cut, recipes and more information. I have only recently had enough nerve to conquer my fear of the pomegranate. The little amount of work that goes into extracting the seeds is worth the effort.
* Red grapes--The heart-healthy antioxidant, resveratrol, is found in the skins of the red grapes. Grape juice, red wine (in moderation--no more than 10 oz. a day for men, 5 oz. for women) or just eating ripe grapes will yield the health benefits. Raisins are also a good way to get resveratrol into the diet.
* Red peppers--There are red bell peppers which are richer in taste (and excellent when roasted) than their green counterparts; however, I'm going to discuss my favorite red pepper, the cayenne, also called the chili pepper. Abundant in capsicum creating spice, chili peppers are often dried and pulverized into the fine cayenne pepper. You can also buy them whole and add them for heat to soups, stews or even a spicy cornbread. Spicy foods have been shown to help weight loss for several reasons. Spicy foods help to rev up the metabolism. People also tend to eat slower when eating spicy foods giving the brain a chance to register food consumption. By slowing down how fast we eat, we keep from getting that over-stuffed feeling that comes at the end of some meals. They are also high in vitamin A.
* Red potatoes--The same benefits as their white counterparts, I enjoy using red potatoes in salads and roasted.
* Radishes--Radishes are rich in ascorbic acid, folic acid, and potassium. They are a good source of vitamin B6, riboflavin, magnesium, copper, and calcium. One cup is about 20 calories of good carbohydrates. Most commonly used in America in salads, this is a popular root vegetable used in many European dishes.
* Raspberries--Chockful of many vitamins and nutrients; Raspberries are a rich source of vitamin C, with 30 mg per serving of 1 cup, manganese and dietary fiber. Contents of B vitamins 1-3, folic acid, magnesium, copper and iron are also considerable in raspberries. Guy and I enjoy a berry mix on our oatmeal every morning. I also enjoying mixing berries in yogurt with walnuts as a dessert.
* Rhubarb--The crisp stalks of rhubarb plants are a rich source of dietary fiber and vitamin C. Rhubarb requires sweetness to counteract the tartness. It is commonly served as a sauce over ice cream and/or combined with strawberries in desserts, jams, jellies and beverages.
* Strawberries--A good source of vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium. The possibilities for strawberries are endless. You can use fresh or frozen strawberries in smoothies, cereal, oatmeal, pancakes, waffles. Strawberries can be cooked into sauces, paired with meat dishes, added to salads, and of course, strawberry shortcake for dessert.
* Tomatoes--Whereas many fruits and vegetables diminish in nutritional quality and content the longer they are cooked, the processing of the tomatoes increases the concentration of lycopene. Lycopene is an antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals that can interfere with normal cell growth. Lycopene is a fat soluble substance so serving tomato dishes rich in heart healthy oils is a good way to get a dose. Other ways are pasteurized tomato juice, tomato paste, tomato sauce, tomato soup and even ketchup. Tomatoes are also a good source of vitamin C, potassium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin A and vitamin B.
* Watermelon--Watermelon is about 92% water by weight, can act as a mild diuretic, good source of vitamin C, and high levels of beta carotene. The easiest way to eat watermelon is to just slice and enjoy on a hot summer day. However, for a refreshing change try a Watermelon Granita:

6 cups seedless watermelon chunks or balls (about a 4 lb with rind)
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
1 Tbsp frest lime juice (1/2 lime)
1/2 cup ginger ale

1. Puree watermelon, lemon juice, and lime juice in blender. Slowly pour in ginger ale.
2. Freeze in 8" X 8" baking pan. During freezing, rake with fork or stir with whisk (be sure to scrape sides of pan) every 30 minutes for 2 1/2 hours or until nearly frozen but not completely solid. Rake with fork and serve. Makes four servings.

Nutritional Information per serving (about 1 1/4 cups): 82 calories, 1 g protein, 21 g carbs, 1 g fiber, .5 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 5 mg sodium
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