Red Vegetables: Nutritional Value And How To Include Them In The Diet

From tomatoes to peppers, red vegetables are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. In this article, we talk about 12 of them and their health benefits.
Red vegetables: nutritional value and how to include them in the diet

Trying to make a dish look like a rainbow is not just a game, it’s a real health issue. Introducing red, green, white and yellow vegetables into the diet is a way to obtain a wide variety of nutrients with a wide range of activity in the body.

Experts have been focusing on this subject for a long time to differentiate what each one of them gives us. In this article, we’ll learn more about red foods: a color that fills us with energy and vitality.

Composition and benefits of red vegetables

Those responsible for giving color to vegetables are the pigments naturally present in them. Science has been interested in their presence in the diet as they can have positive effects on the body. In red fruits and vegetables we find predominantly lycopene, anthocyanins, beta-cryptoxanthin and betacyanins.

In particular, consumption of red vegetables has been associated with a lower risk of suffering some cancers, such as lung cancer (thanks to carotenes) and prostate cancer. More studies are still needed, but early indications suggest a relationship between ingestion and a reduction in the likelihood of developing these conditions.

On the other hand, carotenoids play a key role in the development of neurological health, since they are present in large amounts in the brain. Thanks to them and their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant action, their consumption can prevent the onset of neurodegenerative diseases.

They are also related to better ocular ability and increased night vision. Furthermore, they are less likely to develop problems such as age-related macular degeneration.

red tomatoes
Tomatoes contain lycopene, which gives them their red color and offers some health benefits.

12 options of red vegetables and their respective benefits

Food guides from many countries already include among their recommendations the variety of colors in the diet. To start adding a touch of strength and vitality to dishes, you can choose from any of the 12 red foods that we detail below.

1. Tomato

The first thing that is surprising when talking about tomato is knowing that it is a fruit that is consumed as a vegetable. Originally from South America, today they are famous all over the world, with a wide variety of sizes and shapes.

Due to their flavor, they combine very well with other foods and provide significant amounts of vitamin C, potassium and lycopene. It should be noted that the latter is found in high concentrations in tomato paste and ketchup.

2. Red pepper

Another vegetable from the American continent that has spread throughout the world is pepper. This vegetable has a hollow interior, although edible varieties have been modified to be more fleshy and tender.

There are also greens and yellows, but the reds contain the greatest amount of beta-carotene. They also excel in vitamin C, B6, folate and antioxidants.

3. Beetroot

The stem of the Beta vulgaris plant has been consumed since prehistoric times. Among its pigments, betaines stand out, which can dye foods cooked with it.

Its high natural sugar content is often used to make sweet recipes such as cakes or syrups. However, it should be borne in mind that the consumption of beetroot juices may have some adverse effects, as it would increase the concentration of nitrates, capable of stimulating abnormal cell growth.

4. Red pepper

It belongs to the same family as the red peppers, but it is smaller and spicier. Despite its small size, it’s a true nutritional treasure.

It contains a lot of vitamin C and A. Furthermore, one of its characteristic components (capsaicin) has significant analgesic activity.

5. Red onion

There are hundreds of varieties of this vegetable. One of them has the outer layers dyed by anthocyanins. It is the red onion, although this color is often lost when cooking. Although they can be eaten raw, they are very useful for caramelizing or cooking jams and chutneys .

6. Red chicory

It belongs to the Cichorium genus , such as endive and endive. It stands out for its slightly bitter flavor and is widely used in some pasta and risottos recipes. It is a good source of vitamin K and minerals such as copper and manganese.

7. Red Chard

This edible plant stands out for its fleshy leaves and stems. Green ones are better known and common, but some varieties contain betaines and are red in color. In recent years, their crops have been recovering.

8. Watermelon

The typical summer fruit, very light, moisturizing and source of minerals such as manganese and potassium. Whole or in juice form, it is an ideal dessert, but it also goes well with savory ingredients.

9. Grape

Edible berries of the Vitis vinifera plant come mainly from Europe. Unlike those used to make wines, table wines come in bunches and large grains and have a sweeter taste.

Research into their red pigments, along with resveratrol and other phytonutrients, suggests they can help maintain heart health and protect against aging and age-related illnesses.

10. Strawberry

This fruit is very easy to grow, but you can only enjoy it during the summer. Strawberries are picked when they ripen and, as they are fragile, they should be consumed in a few days. They are light and have a significant amount of fiber, potassium and magnesium.

11. Cherry

It is one of the most appreciated fruits for its natural sweetness, although it also has a variety of sour flavors. Both contain different antioxidants and polyphenols (beta-carotene, anthocyanins and flavonoids) with possible anti-inflammatory activity.

12. Pomegranate

The shrub Prunica granatum produces a red fruit of great nutritional value. Its bark is inedible and hides small, intensely colored seeds inside. With them, you can prepare juices or add to a lot of fresh dishes.

Benefits of berries
The many benefits of red vegetables are related to their antioxidant effects and delaying cell aging.

Tips for using red vegetables in the kitchen

One of the easiest ways to enjoy the benefits of red pigments is to eat berries every day. There is a wide variety of them and we can consume them all year round.

In addition to consuming them fresh as a dessert or snack, they can also integrate preparations and various cooking recipes:

  • Fruit smoothies with or without milk.
  • Fruit and vegetable smoothies .
  • Salads with a sweet and crunchy touch.
  • Jellies and jams.

In the case of vegetables, one of the easiest ways to use them is in salads. In this way, we can take advantage of all its nutrients, such as water-soluble vitamins and minerals.

It is not necessary to include them all, as the richness is in the variety. We can combine tomatoes, roasted peppers, red onions or beets with green, yellow, orange and white vegetables.

Remember that these red vegetables increase their benefit with cooking, because the heat increases the action of pigments. Also, adding olive oil or a fat source (such as avocado or oilseeds) increases its availability and absorption.

Therefore, it is best to prepare soups with tomato or homemade tomato sauces, as well as roasted peppers or stews, beetroot cream or a chard omelet. We cannot forget that some fruits, such as watermelon, are delicious grilled with a little oil, and can be accompanied with a good cheese.

The importance of consuming red vegetables

Fruits and vegetables of this color, such as beets, peppers, tomatoes, watermelon and cherries, have positive effects on health and on the prevention of some diseases. However, a single type of food does not provide all the necessary nutrients. For this reason, it is also necessary to include green, yellow, orange and blue pigments in the diet.

We can find the vast majority of red pigments in fruits and vegetables. Everyone knows their positive effects and that’s why it is recommended to take 5 servings a day of both.

Along with them, other food groups cannot be lacking, such as proteins, whole grains, olive oil and oilseeds. Don’t forget that variety is one of the keys to successful healthy eating.

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