Red lights signal you to stop—but red fruits and veggies are go-to staples in a heart-healthy diet. Many foods that are red have compounds that can help provide your body with nutrients that defend against heart disease and other conditions. Check out these red fruits and vegetables and simple ways to incorporate them into your diet:
- Chili peppers. These spicy kickers contain capsaicin, a compound that may improve digestion. They also offer a good dose of vitamin A and C. Turn up the heat by sprinkling dried chilies and a twist of lime on Mexican dishes, or by adding fresh jalapeños into salsa.
- Tomatoes. A natural pigment called lycopene gives tomatoes their reddish hue, which may help protect against cancer and heart disease. Your body actually absorbs lycopene best from processed tomato products, such as paste and sauce. Create your own sauce with low-sodium canned tomatoes, tomato paste, onions, garlic, and spices.
- Red bell peppers. One pepper contains day’s worth of vitamins A and C—nutrients that strengthen your immune system. This means better protection from infection and faster wound healing. Try roasting and adding red bell peppers to sandwiches, or slicing raw peppers and serving them in a pita with hummus.
- Cherries. Cherries contain antioxidants that zap stress-inducing free radicals. Some people who eat them feel less pain from arthritis, gout, and after exercising. Cherries may also improve sleep due to their high levels of the hormone melatonin. Try drinking tart cherry juice or baking dried tart cherries into cookies and muffins.
- Cranberries. Compounds called proanythocyanidins in this fruit clear bacteria from your bladder and may reduce your risk for urinary tract infections. Cranberries also contain resveratrol, which has been found to reduce blood pressure. Toss dried cranberries onto your salad or spread cranberry sauce on sandwiches.
- Strawberries. These berries pack more than 150 percent of your required immune-boosting vitamin C for the day. Blend up frozen strawberries (make sure there’s no added sugar) into smoothies. Or serve them on sandwiches with peanut butter.
A nutritious diet plays a key role in maintaining health and wellness. Find more ways to add healthy foods to your diet by clicking here.