Good morning, and welcome to September! I hope by the time you finish reading this, I’ll have you seeing red. No, I don’t want to make you angry. I want to encourage you to start eating red fruits and/or vegetables EVERY single day of your life from now on, and ketchup doesn’t count! We should all be eating 5-9 (some experts even say 13!) servings of fruits and vegetables every day, and at least one of those should be red.
Red fruits and vegetables are chock full of so many valuable vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that promote health and wellness as well as prevent disease. Most of us have heard the quote from Hippocrates, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” as well as the adage, “You are what you eat.” My hope is that I can encourage you to make more conscious choices about what is on your plate because it is, in fact, influencing your life in a major way. The food you eat is either building your body or causing it to struggle and barely limp through each day.
After learning about some of the amazing health-giving benefits in these foods, I hope you will be making sure to have plenty of them on your plate every day. You deserve the best in life, and it’s as close as your nearest produce aisle! Below I have listed some of the goodness contained in red fruits and vegetables and what each does for your health:
• Resveratrol – Studies show resveratrol can help treat/prevent cancer as well as cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.
• Lycopene – High levels of lycopene in the blood have been associated with reduced levels of cardiovascular disease and many cancers, most notably prostate, lung, and stomach, but studies also show a reduction in breast, ovarian, colorectal, and pancreatic cancer with the consumption of lycopene containing tomatoes and tomato products.
• Anthocyanins – Protect against liver injuries, reduces blood pressure, improves eyesight, suppresses cancer cells, may play a major role in preventing diseases of affluence such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular, and neurological diseases.
• Potassium – High potassium intake is associated with lower blood pressure and stroke risk. It also protects against the loss of bone density and muscle mass, and reduces the formation of kidney stones.
• Vitamin A – Important for vision as well as immune health, reproduction, and proper maintenance of the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs.
• Vitamin C – This vitamin is essential for immune function, collagen production and wound healing, and studies show the diets high in fruits and vegetables containing Vitamin C are associated with lower risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
• Folate – May reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke by reducing homocysteine levels. Low folate levels have been correlated with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression.
Now for a few red foods and some of the nutrients that they contain:
Strawberries – Folate, Vitamin C, manganese, and fiber
Cherries – Vitamin C, potassium, fiber, calcium, protein, and iron
Cranberries – Resveratrol, Vitamin C. In addition to Vitamin C, cranberries have substances called proanthocyanidins which keep bacteria from sticking to urinary tract walls which is probably why we’ve all heard to drink cranberry juice if we have a urinary tract infection. The best thing I learned about cranberries is that in laboratory studies, these bad boys have been shown to kill cancer cells!
Tomatoes – Lycopene, Vitamin C, folate, potassium, and Vitamin K (helps blood to clot)
Watermelon – Lycopene, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, potassium, copper, biotin, B1, B6
Red Pepper – Vitamin A, more Vitamin C than an orange! vitamin B6, folate, molybdenum, vitamin E, dietary fiber, vitamin B2, pantothenic acid, niacin and potassium.
Beets – Lycopene, folate, fiber, and anthocyanins
Grapes – Resveratrol, folate, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, iron, fiber, and protein
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of foods or nutrients, but you get the picture. There is so much life -giving goodness in REAL food. We all need a tremendous amount of nutrients in our diets each day to replenish what we lose through our activities of daily living as well as those used by the body just to keep us alive. You needn’t stress over trying to have the perfect diet, but most of us could benefit by looking closely at our current choices and improving them a little each day.
One day at a time, one choice at a time, we can overcome bad habits and develop better ones. Make this first week of September a healthy one, and then continue, one day at a time, to make better and better choices each day. YOU ARE WORTH IT!
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