February is American Heart Month and that's got us thinking about everything red. Of all the colors, red may have the most symbolic meanings attached. Red signifies love, passion, romance, adventure, daring, energy and power. When it comes to fresh produce, it also signifies health. From bright bell pepper
reds to rich scarlet plums
, that bright hue means there's something good for you inside.
Beneficial nutrients in red produce can include Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Folate, Potassium and Pectin. Many red fruits and vegetables are also loaded with carotenoid and flavanoid antioxidants like lycopene and anthocyanins, which help fight harmful free radicals in the body. In general, a bright orangey-red hue indicates the presence of lycopene—think guava
and bell peppers—while darker, purpley-red produce often contains anthocyanins—think cherries, plums, pomegranates
and red grapes
Research is still being conducted, but some preliminary studies show that regularly eating foods rich in these red antioxidants may help reduce the risk of heart disease; prostate, breast, stomach and lung cancer; macular degeneration and stroke. Eating fresh reds may help boost the immune system, lower blood pressure, lower levels of LDL (or "bad" cholesterol) and decrease inflammation in the body. What's not to love?Try these easy tips for mixing more reds into your diet:
on granola, yogurt or crepes
Add some dried tart cherries
to trail mix
Slice pink grapefruit
segments onto salads
Quench your thirst by eating juicy red summer watermelon
Make a quick salad with Melissa's Steamed Baby Beets
Snack on baby heirloom tomatoes
Eat a bell pepper
like an apple
—just go for it!
Serve up a fiesta with a cactus pear
Serve your Valentine some hot chiles—a known aphrodisiac!
Just looking at the color red may make you feel more passionate, romantic, powerful and energetic, but eating red is an even better path to a healthy, happy and loving heart!
Happy Valentine's Day!