Red-colored fruits and vegetables are sure to love you back.

Eat red for Valentine's Day

Red Hands Heart Apple

Red is the color of Valentine’s Day. Instead of treating yourself to a box of chocolates, try serving up some red-hued fruits or vegetables. Red-colored fruits and vegetables are sure to love you back.

You’ve probably heard the term phytonutrient before. “Phyto” is Greek for plant so it means plant nutrient.  Phytonutrients give plants their color – from blush red of tomatoes to sunset orange of peaches to midnight blue of blueberries. Phytonutrients are neither a vitamin nor a mineral, but they are just as essential for life.  Phytonutrients protect plants from viruses, bacteria, fungi, UV rays and other invaders. When we ingest phytonutrients, they protect us too.

Foods such as red grapefruit, guava, watermelon, dried apricots, tomato sauce and unsweetened ketchup contain a phytonutrient called lycopene. Lycopene gives these fruits and vegetables their red color, but lycopene also has health benefits touted to reduce the risk of prostate cancer, heart disease, macular degenerative disease and may also reduce inflammation.

Other red foods such as chili peppers, cayenne pepper, paprika and pimentos are sure to spice things up.  These foods contain the phytonutrient capsaicin. This phytonutrient is made into a topical ointment used for pain reduction.

Raspberries, strawberries, cranberries and pomegranates contain a red phytonutrient known as ellagic acid.  This phytonutrient may help prevent cancer.

This year send your body a healthy Valentine – eat red phytonutrients!