Red vegetables: nutritional value and how to include them in the diet

Trying to make a plate like the rainbow is not just a game, but a real health issue. Introducing red, green, white or yellow vegetables into the diet is a way to provide a great variety of nutrients with broad activity in the body.

Experts have long looked at this question in order to differentiate what each one of them brings us. In the following article we learn more about red food: a color that fills us with energy and vitality.

Composition and benefits of red vegetables

Those responsible for providing color to vegetables are the pigments that are found in them naturally. Science has been interested in their presence in the diet, as they can have positive effects on the body. Red fruits and vegetables are predominantly lycopene, anthocyanins, beta-cryptoxanthin, and betacyanins.

Specific, Eating red vegetables has been associated with a lower risk of some types of cancer. such as lung (thanks to carotenes) and prostate. Still further progress is needed, but the first indications suggest the relationship between intake and a reduction in the probability of developing these pathologies.

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

Too are related to a better visual capacity and a reinforcement of night vision. In addition, there is a lower probability of developing problems such as macular degeneration, associated with age.

Tomatoes contain lycopene, which gives them their red color and certain health benefits.

Read more: Nutrients for healthy eyesight

12 red vegetable options and their respective benefits

The dietary guidelines of many countries already include among their recommendations the variety of colors in the diet. To start giving a touch of strength and vitality to the dishes, it is possible to choose between any of the 12 red foods that are detailed below.

1. Tomatoes

The first thing that surprises when talking about tomatoes is knowing that it is a fruit that is eaten like a vegetable. Originally from South America, today they are famous throughout 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 or ketchup.

2. Red pepper

Another of the original fruits of the American continent that has spread throughout the world are peppers. They are a type of berry with a hollow interior, although the edible varieties have been modified to be meatier and softer.

There are also green and yellow ones, but it is the red ones that concentrate the most beta-carotene. Likewise, they stand out in vitamin C, B6, folates and antioxidants.

3. Beet

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

Its high natural sugar content is often used to make sweet recipes like cakes or syrups. However, it must be borne in mind that the consumption of beet juices can present some adverse effects, since it would increase the concentration of nitrates, capable of stimulating abnormal cell growth.

4. Chile or chili

It belongs to the same family as red bell peppers, but they are smaller and hotter. Although its small size should not be confusing, as it is a real nutritional treasure.

They contain a large amount of vitamin C and A. In addition, one of its characteristic components (capsaicin) has a marked analgesic activity.

5. Red onion

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

6. Chicory

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

7. Red chard

This edible plant stands out for its fleshy leaves and stems. The green ones are better known and common, but some varieties contain betaines and have a red coloration. In recent years, their crops are recovering.

8. Watermelon

The quintessential fruit of summer, very light, moisturizing and source of minerals, as manganese and potassium. Whole or mashed it is an ideal dessert, but it also pairs well with savory ingredients.

9. Grapes

Edible berries of the plant Vitis vinifera They come mostly from Europe. Unlike those dedicated to winemaking, the table ones come in bunches and large grains and have a sweeter flavor.

Research on its red pigments, along with resveratrol and other phytonutrients, suggests that they may help maintain heart health and protect against aging and age-related diseases.

10. Strawberries

They come from a very easy plant to grow, but you can only enjoy them during the summer. They are harvested when ripe and being fragile, they must be consumed in a few days. They are light, with a prominent presence of fiber, potassium and magnesium.

11. Cherries

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

12. Grenada

The Bush Prunica granatum produces a red fruit with great nutritional value. Its skin is not edible and it hides the small seeds of intense color inside. With them juices can be made or added to a large number of fresh dishes.

The various benefits of red vegetables are linked to antioxidant and slowing effects of cellular aging.

Tips for using red vegetables in the kitchen

One of the easiest ways to take advantage of the benefits of red pigments is to eat red fruits every day. There is a good variety of them to be able to have them on hand all year round.

Apart from eating them fresh as dessert or as a snack, they can also be part of some preparations or cooking recipes:

  • Fruit smoothies with or without milk.
  • Smoothies of fruits and vegetables.
  • Salads with a sweet and crunchy touch.
  • Jams and compotes.

In the case of vegetables, one of the easiest ways to use them is to add them to salads. This way all its nutrients are used, such as water-soluble vitamins and minerals.

It is not necessary to include them all, since in the variety is the wealth. Tomatoes, roasted peppers, red onion, or beets can be paired with green, yellow, orange, and white vegetables.

But not only do you have to include these red vegetables raw, because some of the pigments that give them color increase their action with heat and cooking. Adding olive oil or a source of fat (such as avocados or nuts) increases its availability and absorption.

So it's best to prepare tomato stews or homemade tomato sauces, as well as roasted peppers or ratatouille, beetroot cream, or a red chard omelette. Not forgetting that some fruits such as watermelon are delicious when grilled with a little oil and can be accompanied with a good hard cheese.

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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 the prevention of some diseases. But a single type of food does not provide all the nutrients that are needed. For this reason, it is also necessary to include green, yellow, orange or blue pigments in the diet.

The vast majority of red foods are found among fruits and vegetables. Its positive effects are known and for this reason the intake of 5 servings a day of both is recommended.

Along with them, other food groups cannot be absent, such as proteins, whole grains, olive oil and nuts. Do not forget that variety lies one of the keys to the success of healthy eating.