Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Hearts & Health: Seeing Red for Valentine's Day

Seeing Red to Find Healthy Foods

From long stemmed roses to heart shaped cards and boxes of chocolates, red is the primary color for expressing sentiments on Valentine’s Day. So with hearts in mind here are a few reasons to seek out the red colored foods that promote heart health.
Blue, purple, green, yellow, orange or red; the natural pigments in foods are clues to the identity of nutrients that lie within. (This does not include the many colors of M & M’s.) The color map to good eating applies principally to plant based foods. The Produce for Better Health Foundation’s website www.fruitsandveggiesmoremattes.org includes a list of foods arranged by color. Since individual pigments are associated with different health promoting plant compounds called phyto-chemicals, it’s important to eat fruits and vegetables from each color group. That’s why it’s a good idea to eat a rainbow of produce to benefit from the unique array of vitamins, minerals, and fiber that each color group has to offer.
When you see red in fruits and vegetables it’s a sign that they contain the healthy plant compounds called lycopene and anthocyanin. These dietary good guys, classified as antioxidants, are associated with promoting heart health, memory function and a lowered risk of certain cancers including prostate cancer. Reddish orange tones in foods such as red peppers and tomatoes are an indication that beta-carotene, another potent antioxidant, is also in the healthy mix.

A Red Hot List of Healthy Foods


Red apples
Blood oranges
Red grapes
Pink/Red grapefruit
Red pears

Red peppers
Red onions
Red potatoes

Chocolate covered berries and cherries:

Sure these confections are a sweet indulgence but you can feel good about the fruit inside - if it’s a fresh cherry and not a maraschino- because cherries and strawberries contain anthocyanins, the mineral potassium, vitamin C, and fiber. Jumbo sized fresh strawberries dipped in dark chocolate are a delicious and nutritious choice for your Valentine. What about the chocolate? If it’s a dark chocolate then you’re getting the health benefits of even more antioxidants.

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